Monday, May 29, 2023 | 03:48 am

Horry-Georgetown Tech Boots TikTok From School Network’s Over Concerns for Security and Safety

Horry-Georgetown Tech Boots TikTok From School Network’s Over Concerns for Security and Safety

Horry-Georgetown Technical College is believed to be South Carolina’s first higher education institute to ban TikTok through its campus network – a move prompted by Gov. Henry McMaster’s opposition to the social media platform.

“It has been determined that the continued use of TikTok on our network could compromise the safety and privacy of students, faculty and staff,” an email sent March 23 to all HGTC employees and students says.

The ban is effective immediately.

Spokeswoman Nicole Hyman provided The Sun News with a copy of the email on Friday, adding the decision was made following McMaster’s request that TikTok be de-platformed on all devices maintained by the state.

Mark Swart, a spokesman for the SC Commission on Higher Education, said he was unaware of other schools that have implemented a TikTok ban.

McMaster on Dec. 5 asked state Department of Administration head Marcia Adams for a list of all agencies with devices that can access TikTok.

“Protecting our State’s critical cyber infrastructure from foreign and domestic threats is key to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens and businesses,” McMaster wrote. “Federal law enforcement and national security officials have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bi-partisan coalition in Congress is pushing to ban access to TikTok in the United States.”

After McMaster’s request, Adams’ agency immediately blocked TikTok on 65,000 devices on the state’s network, which most state agencies use, agency spokeswoman Brooke Bailey said in an email to The State.

However, colleges and universities, the legislative branch and the judicial branch were not part of the Department of Administration’s efforts to ban TikTok on their devices because the agency does not provide them with computer network services.

A Sun News search of TikTok policies in place at state-run schools revealed only that several have branded accounts including Allen University, Coastal Carolina University’s athletics program and Clemson University.

Colleges and university systems nationwide have barred the China-owned TikTok from campuses over security concerns, including all state-run schools in Iowa, Georgia and Montana.

TikTok said in September 2021 it had more than a billion monthly users globally.

Days after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the Myrtle Beach coast, a bipartian group of lawmakers backed a bill to ban TikTok from all government-issued cell phones. That measure has more than 40 co-sponsors and is awaiting action in the House Judiciary Committee.

Lead sponsor Heather Bauer, D-Columbia, said research institutions, law enforcement and other specific groups should continue having access to TikTok but given its data tracking even when phones aren’t activated, she worries about the affect it could have with millions of casual users posting.

“This is a concern for everybody across the aisle. The whole issue we’ve seen is the amount of data that’s collected, so why even let be an option for foreign governments to have that,” Bauer said. “The security issue would not just be for a university, but general American data.”