Judge Upholds Texas TikTok Ban on Government Devices

A federal choose in Texas on Monday upheld a ban that prevented state staff from utilizing TikTok, the Chinese language-owned short-form video app, on authorities units and networks, rejecting a problem by attorneys who argued that the prohibition had violated the First Modification.

The ban was challenged in July by the Knight First Modification Institute at Columbia College. The institute filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Coalition for Impartial Know-how Analysis, whose members embody Texas school professors who mentioned that their work had been undermined after they have been blocked from having access to TikTok on campus Wi-Fi and university-issued computer systems.

In his choice, Choose Robert L. Pitman of the US District Court docket for the Western District of Texas mentioned he agreed that the ban had prevented public college school from utilizing state-provided units and networks to analysis and educate about TikTok, however discovered that it was a “cheap restriction” in gentle of Texas’ issues about knowledge privateness.

Texas had restricted the scope of its ban to state staff, he wrote, and there have been “quite a few different methods for state staff, together with public college school members, to entry TikTok, comparable to on their private units.”

Choose Pitman additionally famous that the Texas TikTok prohibition was narrower than a statewide ban in Montana that had been set to take impact subsequent 12 months till a federal choose quickly blocked it.

Universities in additional than 20 states have banned TikTok in some trend, in response to the Knight First Modification Institute, primarily based on new guidelines from lawmakers who say that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese language firm ByteDance, poses a nationwide safety risk.

The institute, which works on free speech circumstances professional bono, desires Texas and different states to exempt college school from the bans.

Lawmakers in the US, Europe and Canada have escalated efforts to restrict access to TikTok over the previous 12 months, largely due to issues that TikTok and its dad or mum firm could put delicate consumer knowledge, like location info, into the arms of the Chinese language authorities. They’ve pointed to legal guidelines that enable the Chinese language authorities to secretly demand knowledge from Chinese language corporations and residents for intelligence-gathering operations. They’re additionally fearful that China may use TikTok’s content recommendations for misinformation.

Neither the Knight First Modification Institute or TikTok may instantly be reached for remark.

Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.

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