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Texas adds name to list of Republican-led states to ban TikTok

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced a ban on TikTok from government-issued electronic devises. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced a ban on TikTok from government-issued electronic devises. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Gov. Greg Abbott added Texas to the growing list of states that have banned TikTok from government-issued devises, as Republican-led administrations target the social media platform with bans and lawsuits over its links to China.

Abbott, a Republican, announced the prohibition in letters to state government leaders and agencies on Wednesday, explaining that they have a responsibility to preserve the safety and security of Texas as the threat of the Chinese Communist Party to the country grows.

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Abbott directed state agency heads in a letter to immediately ban the downloading and the use of the immensely popular video-sharing platform on government-issued devices, while directing the state's departments of public safety and information resources to develop a model plan for agencies at risk to TikTok by Jan. 15.

He also said in a separate letter to state House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that they must pass legislation this legislative session to safeguard Texas against threats posed by TikTok.

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"TikTok 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," Abbott said in the letters.

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TikTok, which boasts more than 85 million U.S. users, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and Republicans have for years voiced worries over the potential security risks posed by the platform's connections to the CCP.

Those fears have only grown following a June BuzzFeed report that said U.S. user data has been repeatedly accessed from China.

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TikTok has denied allegations over its data protections, stating its U.S. user data is stored in the United States.

Abbott's move comes as several Republican-led states in the past few days have issued similar prohibitions, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan banning TikTok, and other China- and Russia-based platforms, on Tuesday; South Carolina on Monday and South Dakota late last month.

Nebraska banned the smartphone application back in August of 2020 as the Trump administration attempted to ban the platform nationwide, a move that was challenged in court and then rescinded by the Biden administration in June of 2021.

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The Pentagon has also banned TikTok from government devices though officials may use it on personal electronics.

On Wednesday, Indiana's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, unveiled two lawsuits against TikTok.

The first lawsuit accuses it of luring children through misleading representations stating it contains only infrequent or mildly sexual content, profanity or drug use.

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The second is over accusations that it has collected "reams of highly sensitive data and personal information" on Indiana consumers who it has deceived to believe that they are protected from the Chinese Communist Party.

"TikTok represents a clear and present danger to Hoosiers that is hiding in plain sight in their own pockets," Rokita said in a statement. "At the very least, the company owes consumers the truth about the age-appropriateness of its content and the insecurity of the data it collects on users."

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