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Arkansas Tech University blocks TikTok on campus network and devices

Arkansas Tech joins a running list of universities that have banned the popular app TikTok on their campus networks, citing potential privacy risks.

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Several universities nationwide have decided to ban the popular app TikTok on their campus networks, due to potential privacy risks that the app could pose. 

Arkansas Tech University implemented the same app suspension at the start of the semester.

The University Relations Director said the decision comes from state and federal guidelines. 

"The Division of Information Systems for the state of Arkansas issued some guidance and some directives in December, relative to TikTok and state devices especially," said ATU University Relations Director Sam Strasner.

When Arkansas Tech students are connected to school Wi-Fi, they won't be able to access TikTok.

"Devices that are state-owned that the app has to be deleted from those devices during this interim suspension. Also, the wireless internet access at Arkansas Tech University has been adjusted such that users cannot access TikTok through our wireless internet," Strasner said.

University official TikTok accounts are also no longer being used. 

"All of that is an effort to predict the personal identifiable information of our faculty and our staff and our students. There's a great deal of that on the Arkansas Tech University Network, and making sure that that information is secure is really what this is all about," he explained.

UA Little Rock Cybersecurity Research Director Philip Huff said the concern is about where the data from the app is going. 

"TikTok has oversight out of the Communist Party of China, which causes concerns about, you know, what is what is the data is being used for," Huff said.

Huff said we give a lot of data to the app. 

"It has information like your biometrics your face, your voice. The way nation-states use that information, it's not a direct cyber-attack. But they have the ability to spread, spread misinformation. And they can do that very strategically," he described.

Strasner said students and staff at ATU can still access the app on their own personal data.

"As more information comes available, you know, the policy will be open to revisiting, but right now until we get some guidance that things are safe, you're gonna maintain this temporary suspension," Strasner said.

In one of her first moves as Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order banning TikTok on state devices, which includes those issued by state universities.

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