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

Auburn University campus and TikTok app.John Korduner/Replay Photos/Rafael Henrique/Getty Images

  • Last week, students at Auburn University in Alabama were notified that the school was 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 on the app for all government agencies and networks.

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

“Protecting the State of Alabama and our citizens’ right to privacy is a necessity, and I certainly do not take a threat to China’s security lightly,” the governor wrote in a memo. leaders of state agencies last Monday.

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

A university spokesperson said Insider students and faculty were told last week that the popular app would be removed from all school servers and devices and would not be accessible via Wi-Fi. from school.

“Efforts are underway to remove TikTok from all state-owned devices provided by Auburn. Also note that the new policy recommends removing TikTok from personal devices to protect an individual’s privacy as well,” it reads. in a note sent by school officials to students. “The Governor’s order responds to the growing risk of intrusive social media apps harvesting data completely unrelated to professional use of the platform.”

The last video posted by Auburn’s official TikTok account was on December 7. Since then, comments about the policy have started to come in. this week.

Actions like these only add to already growing fears that the Chinese government may be harvesting the personal data of US users. In June, BuzzFeed News reported leaked audio from internal company meetings that suggested Chinese TikTok employees had already obtained user data from the United States. In July, TikTok cybersecurity chief Roland Cloutier resigned from his post, although the company denied that this had anything to do with the data privacy controversy.

TikTok has repeatedly played down these concerns.

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

The company said it created a new department called US Data Security (USDS), with US-based leadership, “to provide a greater level of focus and governance over US data security.”

Auburn University did not immediately respond to further inquiries about how the block will be enforced or whether it is enforceable.

Auburn’s ban could mark the start of a trend by state-funded universities to ban the app on their campuses. Other states, including Maryland, Wisconsin, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska, have all 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 is perhaps no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that underpin our daily lives. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”

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