Auburn University in Alabama has blocked TikTok for all students and faculty on campus, and other publicly funded universities may soon follow suit

Auburn University campus and TikTok app.John Korduner/Play Photo/Rafael Henrique/Getty Images

  • Last week, students at Auburn University in Alabama were told the school is blocking access to TikTok.

  • The popular app will no longer be accessible on campus Wi-Fi.

  • The policy is in response to a statewide ban on the app imposed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

TikTok will no longer be accessible to students and faculty at Auburn University in Alabama after school officials banned the app on campus. The policy is in response to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s recent statewide ban of the app for all government agencies and networks.

Last week, Ivey announced that the ban was meant to protect the state and its private citizens from the Chinese government’s infiltration of sensitive information. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

“Protecting the state of Alabama and our citizens’ right to privacy is a duty, and I certainly do not take a security threat from China lightly,” the governor wrote in a note to state agency leaders on Monday.

Now, Auburn, a public university, is complying, even though college-age young adults make up the majority of TikTok users.

A university spokesperson told Insider that students and faculty were notified last week that the popular app would be removed from all school servers and devices and could not be accessed over the school’s Wi-Fi.

“Efforts are underway to remove TikTok from all state-owned devices supplied by Auburn. Also note that the new policy recommends removing TikTok from personal devices to protect a person’s privacy there as well,” a posted memo reads. from school officials to students. “The governor’s order addresses the growing risk of intrusive social media applications that harvest data totally unrelated to corporate use of the platform.”

The last video posted by Auburn’s official TikTok account was on December 7th. Since then, the commentary on the policy has begun to filter through. this week.

Actions like these only add to long-standing fears that the Chinese government may be harvesting the personal data of American users. In June, BuzzFeed News reported on leaked audio from internal company meetings suggesting that TikTok’s Chinese employees had already obtained user data from the United States. In July, TikTok’s head of cybersecurity Roland Cloutier stepped down from his role, though the company denied he had anything to do with the data privacy controversy.

TikTok has repeatedly downplayed these concerns.

“As we have publicly stated, we have engaged world-class internal and external security experts to help us bolster our data security efforts,” a spokesperson told Insider earlier this year in response to the BuzzFeed leak. News. “This is standard industry practice given the complexity of data security challenges.”

The company said it has created a new department called US Data Security (USDS), with US leadership, “to provide a greater level of focus and governance on data security in the United States.”

Auburn University did not immediately respond to further questions about how the lockdown will be enforced or if it is applicable.

Auburn’s ban could mark the beginning of a trend of state-funded universities banning the app on their campuses. Other states, including Maryland, Wisconsin, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Nebraska, have banned state employees or contractors from accessing the app on state-owned devices.

Earlier this month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement, “There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that underpin our daily lives. To further protect the our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations seeking to undermine and divide us.”

Read the original Insider article

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