A free speech organization and research alliance that examines how technology affects society are fighting back against a TikTok ban that affects government devices in the state of Texas through a new lawsuit.
The Coalition for Independent Technology Research and other plaintiffs contend that limits on TikTok in Texas are unconstitutional in the complaint, which was brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University on behalf of the coalition.
The case focuses on the impact of the restriction on academic staff at public colleges.
Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, argued that prohibiting public university teachers from using TikTok for research and instruction is neither a reasonable nor legal reaction to worries about data-collection and misinformation.
“Texas must accomplish its goals using methods that don’t significantly restrict First Amendment rights. A excellent place to start would be with privacy legislation.
Because of security concerns related to TikTok’s Chinese ownership in the latter part of last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered Texas agencies to remove the app from government-owned devices.
Abbott gave government agencies until the middle of February to make the modifications, calling the worries about TikTok “growing threats.” The governor strengthened the ban by signing a statute last month, which was originally an executive order.
Public universities in Texas moved to prohibit TikTok from campus Wi-Fi networks and school-owned devices as part of that ban. Among the universities that complied with the prohibition and restricted access to the popular social video app on their campuses were Texas A&M and the University of Texas.
In light of prior executive orders, public universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Dakota have all implemented their own restrictions on TikTok. If the Texas lawsuit is successful, it may set a standard for how similarly worded restrictions will fare in other states.
According to board member of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research Dave Karpf, “TikTok is an enormously popular communications platform, and its policies and practices are influencing culture and politics around the world.”
It’s crucial that academics and researchers can examine the platform and shed light on the risks involved. In a cruel twist of irony, Texas’ foolish restriction prevents our members from researching the risks that Texas claims it wishes to address.