TikTok, other popular apps banned at Florida’s public universities

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A Florida Board of Governors decision bans TikTok from school-owned devices and public Wi-Fi on public college campuses in the state. Leaders fear the Chinese government is using the social media app to access personal information.

TikTok has more than 1.3 billion users worldwide and app owner Bytedance denies spying claims.

The statewide ban includes the University of North Florida, University of Florida, and Florida State University, which are among Florida’s 12 public universities.

Obviously, there isn’t some sort of force field or magic blocker to stop people from going on TikTok on their phones and personal devices while they’re on campus, but in Florida, it does. they’re on a public college campus, and they’re using campus Wi-Fi, they won’t be able to use the app.

UNF sent an email Wednesday to students and staff, letting them know that Chinese-owned TikTok is blocked with immediate effect as it is a security risk.

“The University of North Florida is complying with a recent emergency regulation from the Board of Governors of the State University System requiring institutions to remove technologies posted to the University System’s Prohibited Technology List. status (SUS) of any university-owned device and block associated network traffic. with these technologies,” the university’s notification reads. “These applications and technologies have been identified as posing a significant security risk to personal data and infrastructure. This regulation applies to all universities in the state university system and lists software/applications/developers that pose a cybersecurity risk.

University of North Florida Email to Students and Staff

The head of the UNF school of computer science, Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy, said people should be on their guard. The risks are high because the number of Americans using the app gives the company and possibly the Chinese government access to far too much information.

“It would be naive of us to think that (espionage) is not part of their plans,” Elfayoumy said. “Even if I believe them now, I cannot believe them in the future.”

TikTok is certainly popular among students, like UNF students Garrett Kelley and Alexis Korsoh.

“It’s fun,” Kelley said. “You can see a lot of random things. Everything you like is there.

“I just like that it’s simple to use and easy,” Korsoh said. “The videos aren’t that long.”

The ban on TikTok comes at a time when the state of Florida has also banned government agencies from using Chinese-made DJI drones — and there’s a push across the country to ban TikTok altogether.

Students on the UNF campus, like Kelley and Korsoh, expressed varied opinions on Thursday about banning campus Wi-Fi for TikTok.

“Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous, because TikTok is the least of our worries,” said Milo Mitchell.

“I don’t care who has my personal information, my data, as long as they don’t have my bank account,” Jamey DeVries said. “I think it’s shared anyway, everywhere, already.”

Other apps like WeChat that are owned by foreign companies have also been blacklisted from public university campus Wi-Fi in Florida.

Here is the full list of banned apps:

  • Kaspersky

  • VKontakte

  • QQ of Tencent

  • ICT Tac

  • wechat

  • And any subsidiary or affiliate of any entity listed above

Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.


TikTok, other popular apps banned at Florida’s public universities

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