This message is intended for those who have installed the TikTok app on a university-owned phone, tablet, or computer (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices). All others may disregard.
In recent weeks UW System Administration, chancellors, and campus technology and communications leaders have been in robust conversation about cybersecurity in general, and more specifically about the TikTok app on university issued devices including phones, tablets, and computers (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablets, and other devices). We have learned much about the potential risks to national, state, and institutional cybersecurity – and just as importantly, the risks to our personal information security.
UW System President Jay Rothman has instructed all UW campuses to ensure the removal of any installation of the TikTok app from university-owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices). Following consultation with UW System staff and representatives from other campuses to clarify details regarding how the directive should be implemented, I am writing to let you know that complying with this directive requires the following:
- UW–Madison employees, regardless of full, part-time, or hourly status, who have the TikTok app installed on a university-owned device, must uninstall the app by the end of the day Thursday, March 2, 2023. For assistance, contact the Division of Information Technology Help Desk or your local unit’s IT help desk. On Friday, March 3, 2023, the Division of Information Technology, and local IT units will remove the TikTok app from any remaining managed devices.
- *Note that an exemption is allowed for university-owned devices used as part of an active academic research project where the TikTok app is part of the project. Those individuals may continue to use the TikTok app on university issued devices. To seek an academic research exemption, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Starting Friday, March 3, 2023, the Division of Information Technology and local IT units will implement a technical solution that will block the future use and installation of the TikTok app on university-managed devices.
Q: Why is the TikTok application being banned from university-owned devices?
A: The directive from UW System President Rothman is a response to Gov. Evers’ executive order #184 and federal and state lawmakers’ concerns about cybersecurity risks.
Q: When does the ban take effect?
A: All UW–Madison employees who have the TikTok app installed on a university-owned device must be in compliance with the ban by end of day on March 2, 2023.
Q. Who does the ban cover?
A. All UW–Madison employees, inclusive of all employee classes (faculty, academic staff, university staff, graduate assistants, and student hourly employees), unless you have a registered academic research exemption. The directive only prohibits the use of the TikTok app on university-owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices).
Q: Does this mean that TikTok is banned from university networks?
A: No. The directive only prohibits the use of the TikTok app on university owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices).
Q: Can I still manage a TikTok account on behalf of my school, college, institute, or division?
Yes. The UW System directive does not restrict institutions or subunits from operating official accounts on the platform. The directive only prohibits the use of the TikTok app on university-owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices).
Q: Can I still use my work computer, tablet, or other work device to manage a TikTok account?
A: The directive prohibits the use of the TikTok app on university owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet, and other devices). However, you may use an internet browser on a university-owned computer to access the TikTok website.
Q. Is it safe to use TikTok on a personally owned device?
A: Concerns have been raised about safety and security of TikTok. No Internet-based app or service is completely free of risk. However, users may lower their risk by following best IT security practices.
Q: What are some safe ways to use TikTok on my personally owned device?
A: Best practices for use of TikTok on a personally owned device includes:
- Using a password for your TikTok account separate from other accounts.
- Register for TikTok with a unique email address not used for other matters.
- Keep the TikTok app updated to take advantage of the latest security patches.
- Monitor/minimize permissions granted when installing TikTok (access to contact lists, camera, microphone, device storage, etc.)
Q: Can UW–Madison or its subunits advertise on TikTok?
A: Yes. The UW System directive does not ban institutions or subunits from directly advertising on TikTok, or indirectly through a vendor. The directive only prohibits the use of the TikTok app on university owned devices (Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad OS, Android, tablet and other devices).
Q: What if I have a university owned device not managed by an IT group?
A: It is your responsibility to have the TikTok app removed from this device by end of day March 2, 2023, unless being used as part of an active academic research project that has obtained an exemption through the university’s official approval process.
Q: What will happen next?
A: UW System has convened a working group with representation from each university to make recommendations, review progress, and investigate use of other technologies banned in Executive Order 184. Additional updates and information will be forthcoming.
Q. I am a UW–Madison employee and have an unusual use case or situation involving TikTok. Who can I consult or where can I ask a specific question?
A. Please contact email@example.com for assistance with your situation.