After a recent decision by the state’s Board of Governors, universities in Florida will no longer be able to use campus Wi-Fi or school-owned devices to use the popular app TikTok.
The ban applies to the biggest schools in the state, like the University of Florida, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of South Florida.
Late Wednesday night, all UF employees and students were sent an email saying no one should use TikTok through the university’s network because it could pose security risks. As a result, along with Tencent QQ, WeChat, VKonatke, and Kaspersky, TikTok can no longer be used in any marketing or advertising efforts by the University of Florida (UF).
The State University System Board of Governors passed an emergency rule on March 29 that this policy follows. The rule points to the State University System’s list of banned technologies and says that apps like TikTok must be removed from all university-owned devices right away. It also says that UF must block traffic from these platforms on its network.
ByteDance, based in Beijing, China, owns and runs TikTok, a short-form video-sharing app that lets users record and edit their videos. Members of Congress met two weeks ago to talk about how the app could hurt people.
Concerns about data collection led UF to send an email to students and faculty on January 12, telling them not to use TikTok and suggesting that the app be removed from all devices. On the other hand, students said they would keep using it and that the school was overreacting.
In February, UF President Ben Sasse said at an event in Daytona Beach that China could shut down “huge parts of the U.S. economy” if they wanted to use user data.
Is there proof?
So far, no proof has been shown that the Chinese government runs the app to steal information from users. The terms of the company’s agreement are like those of popular apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
Still, in the email sent by UF, the school says that experts have said the app threatens national security because foreign governments could use it to “control data collection, change TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, and compromise personal devices.”
Utah bans the use of TikTok on public devices
On Monday, the governor of Utah said that TikTok couldn’t be used on many state computers.
Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed the order Monday, which says that many state employees in the executive branch can’t use the social media app on phones, tablets, or computers that belong to the state. However, schools at every level, the attorney general’s office, and the legislative and judicial branches are exempt from the ban.
Cox said he doesn’t like TikTok because ByteDance, based in Beijing, owns it. In addition, he doesn’t trust ByteDance because it has ties to the Chinese government.
The complicated relationship between the U.S. government and China’s Communist Party is at the heart of an app’s past, present, and future that has content as funny or serious as humans can be.
TikTok is a video-based social network that uses a powerful algorithm to give users content that fits their interests and habits.
A researcher told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the app can get information from users and sell that information.
Cox is one of several governors who have limited how the social media platform can be used in the public sector in the past two weeks.
The Associated Press says that Maryland, South Carolina, and South Dakota have banned the app from some government devices in the past week or so. So did Texas. In August 2020, TikTok could no longer be used on government computers in Nebraska. Indiana filed a lawsuit against TikTok last week, saying that the app lets kids see harmful things.
Republicans lead all of these states.
The Post says that other states run by Republicans could do the same. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) was one of the six Wisconsin lawmakers who asked their governor to ban the app. The Post said that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is worried about ties to “foreign countries of concern,” is also worried about the state buying tech products and services like TikTok.
The Post said that data companies have found that the average American spends 80 minutes daily on TikTok, which is more time than they spend on Facebook and Instagram combined.
Sameer Patil, a privacy researcher, said on Tuesday that, other than international politics, TikTok is like many social media apps.
He said that the difference is that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, which makes it hard to decide who has the right to govern it. He said that the best way to stop people from worrying that the Chinese government will own American data is to ensure the data never leave American soil.
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In 2020, President Trump tried to get rid of TikTok in the US, but he said he would back down if ByteDance were sold to an American buyer. But, the Chinese government stepped in, The Post said. Since then, ByteDance has announced Project Texas, which it says will send all U.S. TikTok traffic through data centers owned by Oracle, an American cloud-storage company.