Tik Tok Ban on Texas Government Devices: Judge Upholds Controversial Measure!
A district judge in Texas has upheld the state’s ban on the use of TikTok on state-owned devices and networks. The ban extends to all state employees, including public university employees. The decision was made in response to concerns that the popular Chinese-owned short video app could put sensitive data in the hands of the Chinese government or be used as a tool to spread misinformation. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit in July challenging the ban, arguing that it violated the First Amendment.
The lawsuit also claimed that the ban was impeding academic freedom and compromising the ability of professors to teach and do research about the social media app. The Knight Institute brought the complaint on behalf of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, a group of academics and researchers who study technology’s impact on society.
In his decision, Judge Robert L. Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas wrote that the state’s ban on official devices is not a restraint on speech and noted that public university faculty, as well as state employees, maintain the right to use TikTok on their devices.
Pitman also said that while he agrees the ban prevents certain university faculty from using state-provided devices and networks to do research and teach about TikTok, the ban was also a “reasonable restriction on access to TikTok in light of Texas’s concerns.”
The decision comes after dozens of states, Congress, and many universities across the country have taken steps to restrict the use of TikTok on official devices. In November, a federal judge blocked Montana’s blanket ban on TikTok, which was set to take effect in December.
The district judge’s decision to uphold the Texas TikTok ban on state-owned devices and networks is a reasonable restriction on access to TikTok in light of Texas’s concerns. The ban is not a restraint on speech, and public university faculty, as well as state employees, maintain the right to use TikTok on their personal devices. It remains to be seen whether other states will follow Texas’s lead in restricting the use of TikTok on official devices.