State of Florida bans TikTok for government and educational institutions

Credit: Kevin Dunlap

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill banning TikTok and other “foreign-controlled” apps on government and educational devices.

The Republican governor signed into law three bills that he says should prevent foreign interests like the Chinese Communist Party from unduly influencing what he calls the “Florida Free State.”

The first bill would ban companies owned by foreign countries like China, Cuba or Russia from buying farmland or land near critical infrastructure in Florida. The second bill bans state universities from accepting gifts from the CCP or another “foreign country of concern.” Finally, the third bill, SB 258, prohibits the use of TikTok and other foreign-made apps on government and educational devices in the state of Florida.

“So if you try to access Wi-Fi or anything like that with any of these CCP-backed apps, you won’t be allowed to do that,” DeSantis said when signing the bill. “We think this is appropriate because we believe that the benefits that these applications bring are clearly outweighed by the benefits that the CCP derives from data mining and the ability to gather information.”

These bills go into effect July 1 and essentially ban TikTok in Florida for state government and college devices. In addition to banning access to apps like TikTok, the law also seeks to prevent students from using wireless devices during “class time.”

TikTok has come under closer scrutiny across the United States as it faces bipartisan pressure from Congress over its data security and privacy practices. Several states in the United States have taken the same steps as Florida and banned TikTok on state government devices. Some universities in the US are following suit – particularly because of concerns raised by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

TikTok has been caught multiple times collecting users’ clipboard data, spying on journalists, and maintaining a comprehensive list of words and concepts it deems sensitive and should be suppressed — including what it says prevents the fat, ugly ones and LGBT people go viral in the “discovery” algorithm.

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