Texas – In a totally unexpected legal turn of events, a Texas-based coalition comprising faculty members from public universities is embarking on a legal battle against Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his cohort.
The group thinks that banning TikTok on government-issued devices in Texas is unlawful
The bone of contention stems from the state’s imposed prohibition on the widely popular social media platform, TikTok, on government-issued devices, with effect slated to commence from the following year. According to the plaintiffs, the ban hampers the academic activities of the faculty members, hindering their ability to employ the platform for teaching and research purposes.
The legal proceedings were instituted on Thursday by the esteemed Knight First Amendment Institute based at Columbia University. The organization, a known champion of free speech rights, represents the interests of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, an organization with a dedicated focus on advocating for research into the societal ramifications of technology.
“Banning public university faculty from studying and teaching with TikTok is not a sensible or constitutional response to concerns about data-collection and disinformation,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, in a press release.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok was banned in Texas in December
In December, Abbott banned TikTok on state-owned or issued devices for employees in state agencies, including state university systems. At least 20 states have banned TikTok on devices issued by a state agency and several public universities have banned it on school-owned devices, according to The Associated Press.
TikTok is also banned from federal government-owned or issued devices
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was also banned from federal government-owned or issued devices in December 2022, with some exceptions, in the wake of growing security concerns over claims of Chinese government surveillance through the app.
The app has been under scrutiny from lawmakers on a federal and state level. In May, Montana became the first state to ban TikTok from operating in the state. The legislation, effective Jan. 1, 2024, would also ban app stores from offering TikTok in Montana.
The Texas faculty lawsuit joins a number of other legal challenges to TikTok bans.
Although federal and state officials find TikTok problematic when it comes to privacy, the very-popular platform is meanwhile helping millions to make money and become popular. In recent such event, Arlington author reached the first position on Amazon’s best-seller list after TikTok video of total stranger went viral and the book’s sales skyrocketed.