Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) has announced a new statewide model security plan to crack down on the notorious social media platform TikTok. Many government officials have expressed their concerns over the app’s insufficient security, and the governor’s recent plan is the latest in a list of initiatives to protect the state’s cybersecurity.
"Announcing today a statewide plan to ban TikTok. Texans, especially our state agencies and employees, must be protected from having sensitive information shared with the Chinese Communist Party. We cannot ignore this security threat." tweeted the Texas governor.
Announcing today a statewide plan to ban TikTok.
Texans, especially our state agencies and employees, must be protected from having sensitive information shared with the Chinese Communist Party.
We cannot ignore this security threat.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 6, 2023
“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 Gov. Abbott. “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. Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans.”
According to Abbott’s press release, “Each state agency will have until February 15, 2023 to implement its own policy to enforce this statewide plan.” He continued, stating, “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. 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.”
Most of the legislation is clear, with protocols including:
- 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.
Abbott continues to espouse a rhetoric of border security, and this latest move shows his focus extends to cybersecurity as well.