After Gov. Tony Evers finally relented and ordered TikTok banned from state government devices, Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation asked University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman to follow suit.
A UW System spokesman on Wednesday said the schools will follow part of the lawmakers’ request and restrict TikTok from UW System-owned devices.
In a letter this week, the lawmakers urged the UW System to ban the controversial video-sharing app from system devices and to block it from Wi-Fi and wired networks on Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded higher education campuses.
As they did in their letter to Evers nearly two months ago, the congressmen note the state and national security risks TikTok poses — a point of bipartisan agreement. The social media giant is controlled by China-based ByteDance, which is in part owned and definitely influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.
“Given well-documented attempts by CCP-affiliated entities to influence American universities, it is especially important that we minimize the reach of TikTok on our campuses,” the letter states.
The lawmakers note several universities have banned TikTok from their networks, including the University of Texas at Austin and Auburn University.
Earlier this month, Evers announced the TikTok ban on state government devices. His action followed more than a month of warnings from Wisconsin’s congressional Republicans and others,
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08), who led the Wisconsin delegation in urging Evers to act, has called TikTok a “CCP Trojan horse.”
“This app belongs nowhere near any part of our government and I’m glad Governor Evers finally made the decision to ban TikTok on state devices. Now that Governor Evers has recognized the threat posed by the app, I hope he will also delete his campaign’s TikTok account,” Gallagher said in a statement at the time.
Evers said his administration consulted with the FBI and state emergency management “and came to the conclusion it’s the best idea.”
Those consultations came after months of warnings from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who in November told the House Homeland Security Committee China’s ruling Communist Party could be using TikTok to collect user data or control software for espionage.
“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States,” Wray said during a speech last month at the University of Michigan. “That should concern us.”
Gallagher and his Wisconsin congressional colleagues said they were disappointed that Evers’ ban did not extend to the University of Wisconsin System devices at the time.
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