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Gov. DeSantis proposes to ban access to TikTok on university internet services

Announced during press conference on digital rights

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a set of proposals on internet safety Wednesday, including that the state will ban access to TikTok and other foreign platforms on all public university networks, during a press conference in West Palm Beach.

“We share the Governor's concerns,” UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan told The Alligator in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “We continue to monitor the situation, and we will follow state law.”

The university recommended students and faculty delete TikTok because of security concerns in a January email.

The proposals, which DeSantis called “The Digital Bill of Rights,” are for the March Florida Legislative session, according to a Wednesday press release. 

The action items would also ban the use of all other platforms owned by China or other countries the state government deems a threat to safety of government-owned networks. They will also be banned on all government property and in public schools.

The proposal follows a national ban on the use of TikTok on government-owned devices due to worries about Chinese surveillance. Sen. Marco Rubio also introduced legislation in December to potentially ban all TikTok access in the U.S., regardless of whether it’s on government networks.

DeSantis cited the content on TikTok marketed toward children as an issue during the press conference. While the Chinese version of TikTok, or Douyin, contains patriotic messages that limit under-14 screentime to 40 minutes, the U.S. version contains harmful content, he said.

“In the U.S., they’re trying to inject as much garbage into this as possible,” DeSantis said.

Contact Alissa at agary@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a set of proposals on internet safety Wednesday, including that the state will ban access to TikTok and other foreign platforms on all public university networks, during a press conference in West Palm Beach.

UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan referred The Alligator to a Jan. 25 Florida Board of Governors meeting, during which members discussed the use of TikTok on campus. The university recommended students and faculty delete TikTok because of security concerns in a January email.

The proposals, which DeSantis called “The Digital Bill of Rights,” are for the March Florida Legislative session, according to a Wednesday press release. The action items would also ban the use of all other platforms owned by China or other countries the state government deems a threat to safety of government-owned networks. They will also be banned on all government property and in public schools.

The proposal follows a national ban on the use of TikTok on government-owned devices due to worries about Chinese surveillance. Sen. Marco Rubio also introduced legislation in December to potentially ban all TikTok access in the U.S., regardless of whether it’s on government networks.

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DeSantis cited the content on TikTok marketed toward children as an issue during the press conference. While the Chinese version of TikTok, or Douyin, contains patriotic messages that limit under-14 screentime to 40 minutes, the U.S. version contains harmful content, he said.

“In the U.S., they’re trying to inject as much garbage into this as possible,” DeSantis said.

Contact Alissa at agary@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.

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Alissa Gary

Alissa is a sophomore journalism major and University Editor at The Alligator. She has previously covered student government, university administration and K-12 education. In her free time, she enjoys showing photos of her cats to strangers.


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