Texas TiKTok ban upheld

Sorry, professors.

A U.S. judge on Monday upheld Texas’ ban on state employees’, including public university employees, using Chinese-owned short video app TikTok on state-owned devices or networks.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed suit in July arguing that Texas’ state government TikTok ban “is preventing or seriously impeding faculty from pursuing research that relates to TikTok.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman rejected the suit, saying the Texas restriction was motivated by data protection concerns and calling “a reasonable restriction on access to TikTok in light of Texas’s concerns.”

“Public university faculty – and all public employees – are free to use TikTok on their personal devices (as long as such devices are not used to access state networks),” he wrote.

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, said the group was disappointed with the ruling, arguing the Texas ban impedes “public university faculty from studying TikTok — including from studying the very privacy concerns that supposedly motivated the ban.”

Pitman contrasted the ban to Montana that sought to ban all TikTok use in the state starting Jan. 1 but was blocked by another U.S. judge last month, whole ruled the state ban “violates the Constitution in more ways than one” and “oversteps state power.”

See here for the background, and here for more on the Montana case. I thought the plaintiffs had a reasonable First Amendment claim, but the judge decided that the ban was sufficiently limited in scope to be in bounds. The plaintiffs could appeal this but I don’t think they’ll get a more receptive audience at the Fifth Circuit. As such, I think this is more likely than not to be the end, but I’ll keep an eye on it anyway.

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