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Texas to ban use of TikTok on government-owned devices

Texas to ban use of TikTok on government-owned devices
'TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device,' says Gov. Greg Abbott

By Darren Lyn

HOUSTON, United States (AA) - Governor Greg Abbott on Monday announced a new security plan to ban the use of the social media app TikTok on all government-owned devices in the US state of Texas.

“The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored,” said Abbott in a statement. “Owned by a Chinese company that employs Chinese Communist Party members, TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity."

Each state agency will have until Feb. 15 to implement its own policy to enforce the statewide security model, which was developed by the Texas Departments of Public Safety and Information Resources. The plan guides state agencies on managing personal and state-issued devices used to conduct state business, which will include the ban on TikTok and additional potentially harmful software

"Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans," Abbott continued. "It is critical that state agencies and employees are protected from the vulnerabilities presented by the use of this app and other prohibited technologies as they work on behalf of their fellow Texans."

The list of devices that will be banned from downloading potential security threats from TikTok and other software includes state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices of capable of internet connectivity.

Employees and contractors will also be restricted from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.

In addition, the security plan will identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel within an agency that could be exposed to prohibited technology-enabled personal devices and prohibited technology-enabled personal devices will be denied entry or use in these sensitive areas.

State Information Technology (IT) departments will also implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device and plans are in place to continuously update the list of prohibited technologies.

Abbott has spent the past several years taking action to combat threats to Texas’ cybersecurity, including signing the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act in 2021 to fortify certain physical infrastructure against threats that include hostile foreign actors.

The governor's latest security plan has been more than a year in the making. In December 2022, he directed state agency leaders to immediately ban employees from downloading or using TikTok on any government-issued devices.

In less than two weeks, Abbott's plan will blanket every agency in the state of Texas with the goal of "helping safeguard the state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure from potential threats posed by hostile foreign actors."

source: News Feed
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