Philippines launches TikTok ‘threat assessment’ as it considers partial ban


The government of the Philippines will soon decide whether to forbid security employees from using the TikTok video-sharing app amid concerns over cyberespionage, according to a National Security Council official.

“The proposal to ban TikTok is simply for the security sector because many, many countries in the world have already banned TikTok in government devices,” the council’s Assistant Director Jonathan Malaya told reporters on Tuesday.

National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano established a task force “to create a threat assessment” that “hopefully would be finished within the year,” Malaya said, so that a decision on a potential ban can be made “very soon”. He said the possible TikTok ban would not cover the general public.

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Malaya earlier said the threat of data collection or cyberespionage was the reason behind the move to create a task force to consider banning the popular social-media platform on government security devices.

TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd., is banned in a number of countries. The US has prohibited downloading or using TikTok on federal government devices, and the European Commission and some EU countries banned government officials from using TikTok on their work phones. Canada and India have enacted similar bans.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr has asked TikTok to help family-run stores promote their products to the social media platform’s millions of users after meeting with TikTok Chief Executive Officer Chew Zi Shou in San Francisco earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, state news agency Antara reported that TikTok is in the process of obtaining an e-commerce permit from the government, citing the deputy trade minister.

In September, Indonesia banned e-commerce transactions on social media, a major blow for TikTok, which had pledged to invest billions of dollars in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, the region’s biggest economy.

“Before, they [TikTok] were not compliant, they didn’t have the permit. Now they are taking care of it,” deputy trade minister Jerry Sambuaga was quoted saying by Antara on Tuesday.

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He said a partnership with a local firm could be done providing it was in accordance with regulations.

TikTok has 125 million active monthly users in Indonesia, a country of more than 270 million people. It has been looking to translate the large user base into a major e-commerce revenue source.

TikTok did not immediately respond to request for comment regarding the deputy minister’s remarks.

It was reported earlier this month that TikTok was in talks on possible partnerships with several Indonesian e-commerce companies, including GoTo’s e-commerce unit Tokopedia, and Blibli.

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