More Texas universities blocking TikTok access on campus Wi-Fi
TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The University of Texas at Dallas blocked students and staff from using TikTok on campus Wi-Fi Tuesday, joining a growing list of Texas universities with similar bans.
Officials with the University of North Texas, UT Arlington and UT Austin say the move is in response to Governor Greg Abbott's recent directive about the popular video sharing app.
The governor banned TikTok on all government-issued devices back in December and directed all state agencies to take several other immediate steps regarding the app, citing security concerns and privacy risks.
"In order to comply with the Governor's directive, we blocked access to TikTok from University owned networks and removed the application from any UNT System devices," said University of North Texas System Chief Communications Officer Laken Rapier in a statement. "We will be monitoring any further developments and requirements as outlined by the Office of the Governor, Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Department of Information Resources to ensure our continued compliance."
In an email to students Tuesday, UT Austin said the app, "harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices – including when, where and how they conduct internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government."
Jared Schroeder, a journalism professor at SMU, said, "Certainly the government can control how people use the computer they've given them to do their job...But when you get on a university campus where research is being done, there's all kinds of free expression problems here."
He's concerned these sweeping, campus-wide TikTok bans will make it difficult for university researchers to better understand the platform and the actual security threats it poses.
Professors and students will be limited in how they share content, too.
"We're crossing the line from a specific regulation on employee equipment, to a limitation on expression," Schroeder said. "My hope is that there would be a more nuanced approach to the problem."
CBS 11 reached out to all the public universities and colleges in North Texas to see if any others plan to block the app from campus networks:
Texas Woman's University
"Texas Woman's is awaiting guidance from the state (specifically, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources) on how to proceed and best comply with Gov. Abbott's Dec. 7 order regarding the use of TikTok on personal devices. As directed by the governor's office, the university in December removed the TikTok app from all university-issued electronic devices."
"College leadership are in conversations about next steps but have made no decisions yet."
In recent weeks, several universities across the country have blocked access to TikTok on campus Wi-Fi and wired networks, including the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Auburn University.
President Joe Biden signed a bill banning TikTok from federally-issued devices last month. Dozens of state governments, like Texas, have since issued similar bans.
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