Congress passed a bill in late December that banned the popular TikTok from government devices due to a growing concern about the popular video-sharing app owned by China's ByteDance. At least 19 states, including Maryland, have banned TikTok in some fashion from government-issued devices. Higher Ed Drive reports that some public universities have followed suit.
UMBC's Dr. Richard Forno discusses the challenges universities face in banning TikTok from campus systems and related concerns over data privacy on that popular platform in this article on the Diverse: Issues In Higher Education site. Such concerns are warranted, said Dr. Forno
"You got all this data being collected, personal data being contributed to TikTok, and then user profiles and user interests and activities and all that kinds of stuff, that's all being collected and stored by ByteDance, which is a Chinese company," Forno said. "From a security and privacy perspective, that does raise concerns, absolutely. ... All this personal information ... is online in a data center physically outside of the U.S., which makes it much more difficult to ensure the security and privacy and how that information is being handled."
But while multiple states and federal agencies taking action against TikTok is not surprising, the restrictions being put in place will be ineffectual in terms of improving cybersecurity, Forno said.
"Blocking TikTok on government systems, devices, and networks can help. But it's not a 100% solution because users (students, faculty, staff, other employees, visitors, etc.) can download TikTok to their personal phones/laptops and connect to TikTok over cellular networks, thus bypassing the school's restriction. Such restrictions make it more difficult to access TikTok, but not impossible since the university's security controls pretty much only impacts university owned networks and devices, not personal ones. Of course, another concern is that even if a person uses TikTok on their own device, you can bet they have contacts from work in their phonebook or email app, so even there there's still a potential for privacy concerns from the app."
You can read the full article here.