Taiwan considers extending TikTok ban to private sector

The government says it wants to consider freedom of speech and business first.
By RFA Staff
2022.12.12
Taiwan considers extending TikTok ban to private sector The TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, Aug. 22, 2022.
Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Taiwan may extend the ban on Chinese video-sharing service TikTok to the private sector after banning the app from being installed and used in government offices and on public devices over security concerns.

Taiwanese media reported that the Executive Yuan Council, or the Cabinet, has formed an inter-ministerial task force which held its first meeting last week to “discuss countermeasures” against security risks posed by Chinese social media platforms.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) called the world’s most downloaded app and its Chinese version Douyin, both owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, "harmful against national information security.”

Another Chinese-run social platform, Xiaohongshu, has also been banned.

All civil servants at the Cabinet will be punished if caught using the apps on work-related devices.

Secretary-General of the Cabinet Li Meng-yen was quoted as saying on Monday that Chinese social media platforms “have launched many attacks, propaganda campaigns, and disinformation in Taiwan.”

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng meanwhile said that the task force will discuss how to expand the ban on Chinese-made apps in an appropriate manner as the issue concerns freedom of speech and freedom of business.

Taiwan will learn from India, which had already imposed a total ban on TikTok, Lo was quoted as saying.

TikTok and some other apps require real-name registration and analysts say they have agreements with the Chinese government to give up members’ information unconditionally.

The move by Taiwan to ban the apps from public devices last week followed similar decisions by a growing number of Republican-led states in the U.S.

South Carolina, Texas and Maryland are all blocking access to TikTok from state government electronic devices including state-issued mobile phones and computers.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said in a letter that government officials “have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bi-partisan coalition in Congress is pushing to ban access to TikTok in the United States.”

TikTok is believed to have around one billion active users worldwide, among which 85 million are in the United States.

The company has repeatedly rejected security concerns, saying they are "largely fueled by misinformation about our company."

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