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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced a “statewide model security plan” for state employees and contractors to follow that prohibits TikTok and other software on government-issued devices as well as the use of prohibited technology-enabled personal devices on government networks.
Abbott’s statewide model security plan would address the “vulnerabilities” presented by using TikTok and other software on personal and state-issued devices. The plan follows the governor’s directive from last December, which was supposed to immediately ban employees from downloading or using TikTok on any state-issued devices.
“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,” Abbott said. “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.”
The governor’s plan, as he noted in the announcement, includes multiple objectives for agencies to implement and for every employee and contractor to follow to protect Texas’s “sensitive information and critical infrastructure” from technology, such as TikTok, that could pose a threat:
- Ban and prevent the download or use of TikTok and prohibited technologies on any state-issued device identified in the statewide plan. This includes all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices of capable of internet connectivity. Each agency’s IT department must strictly enforce this ban.
- Prohibit employees or contractors from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.
- Identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel within an agency that could be exposed to prohibited technology-enabled personal devices. Prohibited technology-enabled personal devices will be denied entry or use in these sensitive areas.
- Implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device.
- Work with information security professionals to continuously update the list of prohibited technologies.
In addition to TikTok, some of the “prohibited technologies,” which include the subsidiary or affiliate of an entity, on Texas’s list as of late January include ByteDance Ltd., WeChat, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, AliPay, QQ Wallet, and Dahua Technology Company.
“Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans,” Abbott added. “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”:
Today, I’m announcing a plan to ban TikTok in Texas.
It’s critical that state agencies are protected from the Chinese Communist Party as they work on behalf of Texans.
Learn more about my plan to keep Texas secure: pic.twitter.com/cN3A0dhbXv
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) February 6, 2023
“I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources for their hard work helping safeguard the state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure from potential threats posed by hostile foreign actors,” he continued.
Every state agency will have until February 15 to implement its policy to enforce the governor’s statewide plan.
In recent months, there has been a push from Democrat and Republican public officials to take and/or call for action against the Chinese social media app over concerns that it could surveil Americans.
Numerous governors have announced that their states would also ban TikTok from state government devices over the last year, including Ohio, Georgia, Montana, Alabama, and Iowa.
On the federal level, a Republican-led Senate-passed piece of legislation was added to the omnibus spending bill that passed Congress and was signed into law last year, which banned TikTok from U.S. government devices.
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.