Free Speech Institute Challenges Texas TikTok Ban on Public University Employees

July 13, 2023

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on Thursday sued the state of Texas over its banning public university employees from using TikTok on state-owned devices or networks. 

The institute alleges the ban on the Chinese-owned video sharing app is compromising research and teaching, in a filing in U.S. District Court in Austin on behalf of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research.

The TikTok ban “is preventing or seriously impeding faculty from pursuing research that relates to TikTok,” the filing asserts. It adds, “It has also made it almost impossible for faculty to use TikTok in their classrooms.”

Texas is one of more than a dozen states, along with Congress and the White House, that have taken actions to ban the app on government devices. 

TikTok is suing the state of Montana over its a law banning the use of the app on any device or network statewide, including those of consumers not linked to the government.

The restrictions began after FBI Director Chris Wray in November warned that the Chinese government could use TikTok to control data collection on millions of American users, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.

TikTok reportedly has more than 1 billion monthly active users in more than 150 countries worldwide, including a reported 150 million users in the U.S.

According to Pew Research, 67% of U.S. 13 to 17-year olds use TikTok, with 16% of those teens saying they use the app almost constantly.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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