The governor of Texas in the United States, Greg Abbott, banned the use of TikTok by state agencies on Wednesday (Dec. 7), joining four other states that have acted against the platform over cybersecurity issues.
The Lone Star State governor sent letters to several state leaders to highlight Texas’ responsibility to protect the safety of Texans and the country’s responsibility to establish external policies for such protections.
“TikTok collects vast amounts of data from its users’ devices-including when, where, and how they perform Internet activities-and offers this treasure trove of potentially confidential information to the Chinese government,” says a letter from Abbott to state leaders, reported in the U.S. press.
“Although TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that officials in China may have access to U.S. data.”
According to a statement from Abbott’s office, more than 85 million users in the U.S. use TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company “that employs members of the Chinese Communist Party and has a subsidiary partially owned by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Abbott has ordered state agency leaders to prohibit officials and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any state-issued device, whether laptop, tablet, computer, cell phone, or other devices capable of connecting to the Internet.
He also requires the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources to produce a plan that addresses TikTok vulnerabilities on personal devices by Jan. 15, 2023.
By Wednesday, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Maryland had taken steps to ban state agencies from using the platform.
Texas and Indiana became the fourth and fifth states to raise concerns about the video-driven social media platform influenced by Russia and China.
The latter state launched an investigation into TikTok for exposing minors to adult content and misleading users about China’s access to user data.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced on Wednesday two lawsuits against TikTok.
One lawsuit accuses TikTok of luring children to the platform through “rare/light” sexual content, swear words, or drug references; the attorney general said when the app is full of extreme examples of such material.
The second lawsuit claims that “highly sensitive” data and personal information about Indiana consumers are not protected from the Chinese government and the Communist Party.
“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harm it inflicts on users,” Rokita said in a statement.
“With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive, and misleading practices that violate Indiana law.”