Almost all Florida public universities have banned the TikTok and several other apps, following an emergency regulation from the Florida Board of Governors and a growing call across the country to ban the platform over security concerns.
The Board of Governors passed the emergency measure last week, creating a list of prohibited technologies that includes the Chinese-owned social platforms TikTok, WeChat and Tencent QQ, and Russian-owned Kaspersky and VKontakte. Universities are permitted to ban additional software and hardware as well.
The apps will be banned from university-owned devices and access will be blocked using university networks.
In early March, Florida A&M University banned TikTok and Fizz, a social platform started by two Stanford University dropouts and owned by a Palo Alto, California, tech founder that allows students to post anonymously.
ByWednesday, nine of the state’s 12 public universities followed suit, banning the apps on the prohibited technology list. The University of Central Florida joined the group on Thursday, with Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland expected to make an announcement soon.
Florida State University also banned the app Fizz, and Florida A&M on Wednesday broadened its ban to include the other apps on the state list.
“These applications are identified to bring unnecessary risk due to their connection with the foreign governments and are known to collect user’s biometric data such as faceprints and voiceprints from the user’s content,” an email from Florida State to the university community said.
Board of Governors member Alan Levine raised concerns over the apps at the meeting last week, saying he believed they could lead to intellectual property and research at universities being turned over to the Chinese government. He also cited security concerns.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Divya Kumar covers higher education for the Tampa Bay Times, in partnership with Open Campus.