Texas governor bans TikTok, Indiana launches investigations into Chinese-owned app

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned the use of TikTok by state agencies on Wednesday, joining four other states that acted against the platform over cyber security concerns.

The Lone Star State governor sent letters to several state leaders, not just to highlight Texas’ responsibility to protect the safety and security of Texans, but also the country’s responsibility to establish foreign policies of said protections.

On Wednesday Texas became the latest state to ban TikTok use by state agencies. (Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa (Photo by Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

"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," reads one letter from Abbott to state leaders. "While TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to U.S. data."

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According to a statement from Abbott’s office, over 85 million users in the U.S. use TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company "that employees Chinese Communist Party members and has a subsidiary partially owned by the Chinese Communist Party."

Abbott ordered state agency leaders to ban officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any device issued by the state, whether laptop, tablet, computer, cellphone or other device capable of connecting to the internet.

On Wednesday Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned the use of TikTok by state agencies.  (Brandon Bell/Getty Images / Getty Images)

He is also requiring the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources to produce a plan that addresses TikTok vulnerabilities on personal devices by Jan. 15, 2023.

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Up until Wednesday, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Maryland had taken action to ban use of the platform by state agencies. Texas and Indiana became the fourth and fifth states to raise concerns over the video-fueled social media platform influenced by Russia and China, with the latter state launching an investigation into TikTok for exposing minors to mature content and deceiving users about China’s access to user data.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, on Wednesday, announced two lawsuits against TikTok.

One lawsuit accuses TikTok of luring children onto the platform through "infrequent/mild" sexual content, profanity or drug references, the attorney general said, when the app is full of extreme examples of that type of material.

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The second lawsuit claims "highly sensitive" data and personal information about Indiana consumers is not protected from the Chinese government and Communist party.

"The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users," Rokita said in a statement. "With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law."

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