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Florida Lawmakers Vote Unanimously to Ban Tik Tok and Other Foreign Owned Apps from State Networks and Devices

View of a Businessman holding a cloud of social media network icon
Production Perig - stock.adobe.c
View of a Businessman holding a cloud of social media network icon

Florida - Thursday May 4, 2023: Florida lawmakers Wednesday passed a bill that bans Tik Tok and other foreign owned apps from government devices and networks. The vote was unanimous in both the State House and Senate.

The ban covers all state, county and municipal issued devices, wireless networks and virtual private networks, including all local state agencies, colleges and universities, and it reserves the right of of state government entities to remotely wipe and uninstall prohibited applications from “compromised” government-issued devices.

Passage of the bill codifies an executive order issued by Governor DeSantis last year banning apps from "foreign countries of concern". Among those countries named in the bill are China, Russian, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuelan, and Syria.

Government-issued devices includes cellular telephones, desktop computers, laptop computers, computer tablets, and any "other electronic device capable of connecting to the Internet which is owned or leased by a public employer and issued to an employee or officer for work-related purposes.”

House Bill 379 was introduced by Representative Brad Yeager. Senate Bill 52 was introduced by Senator Danny Burgess.

In addition the legislation will:

  • Require the Florida Department of Education to develop a curriculum for social media safety and make all instructional materials from the course available online.
  • Require district school boards to notify parents of the availability of social media safety instructional materials.
  • Require social media safety material to include age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate instruction for students in grades 6-12, and focus on the social, emotional, and physical effects of social media.
  • Require social media safety instruction to include:
    • Risks of social media on mental health, including addiction, the distribution of misinformation, how social media manipulates behavior, and the permanency of sharing materials online.
    • How to safely use social media, such as maintaining personal security and identifying cyberbullying, predatory behavior, and human trafficking, and how to report suspicious behavior encountered on the internet.
  • Require schools to restrict student access to social media platforms on school-provided WiFi and devices.
  • Prohibit the use of wireless communication devices during instructional time, except when used solely for educational purposes as directed by the student’s teacher.
  • Require school districts to adopt an internet safety policy that addresses safe and secure access to the internet by students.
  • Prohibit the use of TikTok on school-provided internet.

“Kids are losing their innocence at a younger and younger age, in large part because of what they see just by looking at their phones," said Senator Burgess. "With this legislation, our schools and parents will be able to work together to provide children with the educational tools they need to help protect their mental health and avoid the pitfalls of social media."