The Philippines Mulls a TikTok Ban
Concerns Over Chinese Espionage Grow
Manila, Philippines – The popular social media platform TikTok could potentially face a ban in the Philippines if it is proven that the Chinese government is using the app for espionage and cyberattacks, according to National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, as he was quoted by GMA News.
Reports from late September explained that the Philippines has considered banning TikTok for security workers for some time, and now considers a full-stop ban.
Año expressed concerns about the possibility of TikTok acquiring data and private information from its subscribers, citing the fact that the app originated from China. In a report from GMA News, the National Security Council (NSC) secretary stated, "Because these apps came from China, there is a huge possibility that they are acquiring data and the private details of their subscribers."
While the NSC previously announced in September that it was studying the option of a TikTok ban limited to the government's security sector, Año now claims that he will not hesitate to recommend a total ban if there is sufficient evidence to prove cyberattacks against the Philippines.
"We are not yet saying that TikTok will be banned in the Philippines. We will first go to governments and offices involved in security matters. If we see any other development, we will adjust," Año explained to media.
The NSC is currently assessing TikTok to ensure the protection of Filipino subscribers and the government system, according to Año. DataReportal reveals that approximately 43.4 million Filipino adults use TikTok.
The recent cyberattacks on the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) have further heightened concerns. In response, NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya has been tasked with submitting a report on how the council will draft its memo or policy to guarantee data protection in the Philippines.
"[W]e need to prepare for it," Año stressed, as he was quoted by GMA News.
The Philippines would not be the first country to ban TikTok over national security concerns. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Syria, and Afghanistan have already implemented a complete ban on the app. The Philippine Star reported that these nations fear that TikTok could pose a threat to their national security.
In contrast, countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have taken partial measures against TikTok, focusing on data privacy and security issues.
As the NSC continues its assessment of TikTok's potential risks, the fate of the app in the Philippines remains uncertain. The government will carefully analyze the evidence before making any decisions regarding a potential ban.