Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies on Wednesday to ban the use of social media platform TikTok on government-issued devices over concerns about how the China-owned app handles data on American infrastructure and other sensitive information.
“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 a letter to state officials on Wednesday.
TikTok has faced growing scrutiny from state and federal officials over fears that American data could fall into the possession of the Chinese government.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita sued TikTok on Wednesday for allegedly misleading users about the Chinese government’s capacity to access their data and showing mature content to minors. It marks the first state lawsuit against the app.
On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a similar prohibition on TikTok, as well as Chinese technology makers like Huawei and ZTE, from use on state business.
In a statement a response to Hogan’s ban, TikTok said in a statement to ABC News: “We believe the concerns driving these decisions are largely fueled by misinformation about our company. We are happy to continue having constructive meetings with state policymakers to discuss our privacy and security practices. We are disappointed that many state agencies, offices, and universities will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and connect with constituents.”
Last month, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission called on the U.S. government to ban the social media platform.
The Biden administration and TikTok wrote up a preliminary agreement to address national security concerns posed by the app but obstacles remain in the negotiations, The New York Times reported in September.
TikTok says that it stores the data of U.S. users outside of China, and has never removed U.S. posts from the platform at the request of the Chinese government.
Recent news stories have called into question the security of user data.
Buzzfeed reported in June that TikTok engineers based in China gained access to intimate information on U.S. users, such as phone numbers. Forbes reported in October that ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, intended to use the app to access information on some users.
The Trump administration tried to ban TikTok in 2020, eventually calling on ByteDance to sell the app to a U.S. company. However, the sale never took place.