Security concerns over the TikTok social media app have led the University of North Florida to ban the app from any university-owned device and block the technology from its network.
UNF said TikTok, as well as apps like Tencent QQ, WeChat, VKontakte and Kaspersky, are no longer allowed on university-owned computers, smartphones, tablets or the network.
Personal devices owned by staff, teachers or students will not be affected unless they use UNF’s wireless or wired networks. If they do, personal devices will not be able to connect while on a network, the university said.
“If you have installed any of these prohibited technologies on a university-owned mobile device or computer, you are required to remove it and cease using it,” the notice said.
The University of Florida and other institutions in the state announced a similar ban Wednesday, weeks after the federal government did the same thing.
Florida university officials say they are complying with a recent emergency regulation from the Board of Governors requiring them to remove the apps because they “have been identified as having a significant security risk on personal data and infrastructure,” UNF said.
The regulation applies to all universities in the State University System. It does not apply to colleges like Florida State College at Jacksonville.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance. But U.S. government officials have feared that with TikTok installed on 150 million phones in the United States, it is collecting lots of data about those using their phones, according to an interview March 23 with Forbes technology reporter Emily Baker-White on WBUR Public Radio.
According to Baker-White, there are concerns the Chinese government could use the data in ways that would compromise national security.
Bytedance maintains that it does not share data with the Chinese government and is working on a project to store U.S. user data in Texas, out China’s reach, according to NPR. But in early March, the U.S. gave government agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems.
The ban applies only to government devices, though some U.S. lawmakers are advocating for an outright ban. Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have taken similar steps. More than half of the 50 U.S. states also have banned the app.
China has lashed out at the U.S. for banning TikTok, saying it is an abuse of state power and is suppressing companies from other countries.