Alabama's Auburn University has blocked TikTok for all students and faculty on campus and other publicly-funded universities may soon follow suit
Last week, students at Alabama's Auburn University were told the school is blocking TikTok access.
The popular app will no longer be accessible on campus Wi-Fi.
The policy is in response to a statewide ban of the app imposed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
TikTok will no longer be accessible for students and faculty at Alabama's Auburn University after school officials banned the app on campus. The policy is in response to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey's recent statewide ban of the app for all government agencies and networks.
Last week, Ivey announced that the ban was to protect the state and its private citizens from having sensitive information infiltrated by the Chinese government. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
"Protecting the state of Alabama and our citizens' right to privacy is a must, and I surely don't take a security threat from China lightly," the governor wrote in a memo to state agency leaders last Monday.
Now, Auburn, a public university, is complying, even though college-aged young adults make up a majority of TikTok users.
A spokesperson for the university told Insider students and faculty were informed last week that the popular app would be taken off all school servers and devices, and could not be accessed through the school's Wifi.
"Efforts are underway to remove TikTok from all state-owned devices provided by Auburn. Note also that the new policy recommends removing TikTok from personal devices to protect a person's privacy there as well," a memo sent from school officials to students read. "The governor's order addresses the growing risk of intrusive social media applications harvesting data totally unrelated to business use of the platform."
The last video posted by Auburn's official TikTok account was on December 7. Since then, comments about the policy have started trickling in. "Guess y'all better take this account down. With the ban on school wifi and all…" one user wrote this week.
Actions like these only add to already surmounting fears that the Chinese government may harvest American users' personal data. In June, BuzzFeed News reported off leaked audio from internal company meetings that suggested that Chinese TikTok employees have already obtained user data from the US. In July, TikTok's head of cybersecurity, Roland Cloutier, stepped down from his role, although the company denied that it had anything to do with the data privacy controversy.
TikTok has repeatedly downplayed these concerns.
"As we've publicly stated, we've brought in world-class internal and external security experts to help us strengthen our data security efforts," a spokesperson told Insider earlier this year in response to the BuzzFeed News leak. "This is standard industry practice given the complexity of data security challenges."
The company said it has created a new department called US Data Security (USDS), with US-based leadership, "to provide a greater level of focus and governance on US data security."
Auburn University did not immediately respond to further inquiries about how the block will be enforced or if it's enforceable.
The Auburn ban may mark the beginning of a trend of state-funded universities banning the app on their campuses. Other states, including Maryland, Wisconsin, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska, have all banned state employees or contractors from accessing the app on state-owned devices.
Earlier this month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement: "There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us."
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