BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s education chief urged public schools and systems Tuesday to remove TikTok from public devices amid concerns about security and the privacy of users’ data.
Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley is the latest state official to urge restrictions of the popular video-sharing app.
Critics of TikTok fear the Chinese government is gaining access to critical information through the application and could be using it to spread misinformation or propaganda. TikTok is owned by ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese company. There’s also been concern about TikTok’s content and whether it harms teenagers’ mental health.
In a memo to school leaders, Brumley advised schools and school systems to immediately remove the app, or any other applications developed by ByteDance Ltd., from publicly funded devices, The Advocate reported. In addition, he recommended that TikTok be eliminated as a communication outlet for school systems and schools, including co-curricular clubs, extracurricular organizations and sports teams.
Other state leaders have taken similar steps and even banned use of the app.
Last month, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne banned TikTok traffic on all networks managed by the state Office of Technology Services. That includes agency-owned phones and laptops, as well as personal devices while they are connected to state wireless networks.
Jacques Berry, a spokesperson for Dardenne, said Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards approved of the restriction.
Similarly, in mid-December, Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin banned TikTok on all devices issued by his agency.
“As Secretary of State, I have the serious responsibility of protecting voters’ personally identifiable information, which is why I have taken the step of banning the use of TikTok on all devices owned or leased by my agency,” Ardoin said in a letter to Edwards, urging the governor to ban the app on all the state’s government devices.
The debate over TikTok has reached a national scale. Last month, Congress approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices for employees. At least 15 Republican governors and one Democratic governor — Gov. Laura Kelly — have already imposed such restrictions.
TikTok has become the world’s second-most popular domain and is consumed by two-thirds of American teenagers, some of whom use it to fill gaps in their school lessons. The provision in the congressional spending bill reflected bipartisan concerns about security and the spread of misinformation because of the app’s Chinese ownership.
TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown told The Associated Press last month that the company is working with the U.S. government to address concerns.