Q&A – Is the TikTok Ban by Florida’s Universities Pointless or Pragmatic?

Q&A of the Day – Is the TikTok Ban by Florida’s Universities Pointless or Pragmatic? 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio    

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: @brianmuddradio I don’t do TikTok and don’t support China but does the TikTok college ban really accomplish anything? I get faculty not using it but why would they care if students do? 

Bottom Line: Wednesday numerous Florida universities responded to a recently adopted Emergency Regulation by the Florida Board of Governors. The regulation entitled Security of Data and Related Information Technology Resources was a two-page directive to Florida’s Universities which included six specific directives. The actionable items for Florida’s Universities to consider were based on the Board’s findings that were consistent with what the State of Florida and Federal Government evidenced when issuing a ban of the app for government employees. Among the many concerns associated with the use of the app, the company has acknowledged that the Chinese Communist government regularly has accessed user data prompting federal investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and congress. In December we learned the most chilling revelation regarding the extent the Chinese Communists would go to make use of TikTok data. Following an investigation, the company was forced to admit they’d actively tracked the data of reporters who’d used the app. TikTok tracked movements of reporters in order to identify the sources used in reporter's stories on behalf of the Chinese Communist government. That event is specifically what’s led the next level discussions currently underway in Congress about a potential outright ban of the app in the United States. So, with a bit of the backstory in mind, here are the six directives issued to Florida’s universities: 

  1. The president of each university shall be responsible for ensuring appropriate and auditable security controls are in place on his/her campus. 
  2. Each university shall appoint an information security manager. 
  3. Each university shall develop and annually review and update an information security plan. 
  4. Each information security plan must address the following (eight different protocols) 
  5. Each university must make its information security plan, IT audits, IT risk assessments and inventories of known stores of confidential data appropriately available to the Board's assistant vice chancellor of ITS upon request. 
  6. Cyber Threat Management - Universities shall use a state-approved cyber threat prohibited technologies list. 

The language and the breadth of the directive helps illustrate the point that while TikTok may be a key catalyst behind these changes, the overhaul underway at the state’s universities is as much about modernizing, which is probably long overdue, as it is about banning TikTok. In fact, TikTok isn’t the only app that is now banned at universities which have imposed bans. WeChat ,Vkontakte, Kaspersky and Tencent QQ are also no longer allowed at twelve universities which have imposed TikTok bans on campus. The twelve universities are

  • Florida Atlantic  
  • Florida International 
  • Central Florida 
  • Florida 
  • Florida A&M 
  • Florida Gulf Coast 
  • Florida Polytechnic 
  • Florida State 
  • New College 
  • North Florida 
  • South Florida 
  • West Florida 

In answering the question about what may be accomplished by schools banning the app on campus, and why these schools should care...? The view of the possible I presented about the targeted reporters should be an indication. The what ifs are endless. Imagine, for a moment, the Chinese government seeks to manipulate collegiate education. In the most benign sense, they could potentially identify college students and subjectively feed them propagandized content, and that’s generally where the conversation starts and stops. The possibilities are many. More diabolically consider... If the Chinese Communist government was able to pinpoint reporters and then target their sources (presumably to threaten, intimidate, or potentially even worse?), wouldn’t the same be in play for say professors? It could theoretically be possible to use the apps on student's devices to discern what’s being taught and by whom. TikTok could potentially counter that messaging through prioritization of content in the app while simultaneously making professors targets within universities. Again, the possibilities are endless. And that’s the point behind why the ban on university campuses makes sense. The Chinese Communist government is evil. TikTok is controlled by the Chinese Communist government. The base case argument isn’t complicated. 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content