Taiwan declares TikTok a national security threat

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Taiwan’s Minister of Digital Affairs, Audrey Tang, has declared TikTok, the social media platform owned by a China-based company, as a significant national security threat, Central News agency Taiwan reported. Tang emphasised that the platform’s association with foreign adversaries aligns with the United States’ perspective, which deems TikTok a potential risk to national security.

In a recent legislative hearing, Tang stated, “Taiwan has classified TikTok as a dangerous product.” She explained that any product susceptible to control by foreign adversaries, either directly or indirectly, poses a threat to national information and communication security according to Taiwan’s standards, as reported by CNA Taiwan. The move in Taiwan follows a similar trend in the United States.

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill targeting ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, giving it a timeline to divest its US assets or face a nationwide ban. This legislation mirrors Taiwan’s concerns about foreign influence over digital platforms. Tang disclosed that Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) has proposed an amendment to the Cyber Security Management Act, echoing apprehensions voiced in the U.S. House bill regarding indirect foreign influence. This amendment reflects Taiwan’s commitment to safeguarding its digital infrastructure from external interference.

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TikTok’s usage is already restricted within Taiwanese government agencies and their premises. However, Tang hinted at the possibility of extending this ban to schools, non-governmental agencies, and public spaces, pending a decision by the Cabinet. She emphasized that such a decision would entail a comprehensive assessment, considering legal processes and practical feasibility. “The final decision will be made by the Cabinet after extensive consideration of opinions in the various sectors,” the ministry asserted. It highlighted ongoing inter-ministerial discussions convened by the Cabinet to address this issue effectively.

Additionally, the digital ministry disclosed its vigilance regarding the progress of the TikTok bill in the US Congress, indicating a keen interest in international developments shaping digital security policies. In line with existing regulations established in 2019 and revised in 2022, any information and communication system or service with the potential to disrupt government operations or societal stability is classified as a product endangering national information and communication security, CNA Taiwan reported.