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UT-Austin Blocks TikTok on Campus Networks

The University of Texas at Austin has blocked access to TikTok on its Wi-Fi and wired networks, following Governor Greg Abbott's recent directive requiring all state agencies to remove the app from government-issued devices.

People silhouettes in front of Tiktok logo
People silhouettes in front of Tiktok logo

The move aims to eliminate risks to information in the university's network and critical infrastructure.

TikTok Harvests Data, Poses Cybersecurity Risk

According to Jeff Neyland, UT-Austin technology adviser, TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices, including when, where, and how they conduct internet activity.

It offers this trove of potentially sensitive data information to the Chinese government. This poses a significant cybersecurity risk which prompted the university to take this step to protect its networks and infrastructure.

UT-Austin campus
UT-Austin campus

Ban Impacts on Student Recruitment

The ban could have broad impacts, particularly at universities serving college-age students, a key demographic that uses the app. University admissions departments have used it to connect with prospective students, and many athletics departments have used TikTok to promote sporting events and teams.

It also needs to be clarified how the ban will impact faculty who research the app or professors who teach in areas such as communications or public relations. TikTok is a heavily used medium.