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Taiwan bans TikTok from public sector devices

TikTok listed as 'harmful product against national information security'

(TikTok, images)

(TikTok, images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has banned TikTok from public sector communications devices as it has been listed as a product that endangers national information and communication security.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Friday (Dec. 2) warned that TikTok, the world’s most popular app, presents national security concerns as the Chinese government may have the capability to manipulate its recommendation algorithm. Taiwanese business expert Hsieh Chin-ho (謝金河) on Sunday (Dec. 4) bluntly said that “TikTok is a big driver of the destruction of Taiwan.”

A Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) official was cited by Liberty Times as saying on Monday (Dec. 5) that Douyin and TikTok (international version) have been deemed to be "harmful products against national information security."

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has suggested that the United States completely ban TikTok and there is a growing chorus among legislators in Taiwan to impose a nationwide ban on the app. The Mainland Affairs Council stated last month that the government has not allowed Chinese-funded corporations to operate online platforms in Taiwan, and TikTok's mother company, ByteDance, has not officially set up a branch or office in Taiwan and is therefore barred from operating related businesses in Taiwan.

However, TikTok can still be easily downloaded on mobile phones across Taiwan. The MODA official said that the ban on TikTok is divided into two levels: the public sector and the private sector. In the public sector, TikTok/Douyin and Xiaohongshu are products that endanger national information security and have therefore been banned from public sector communication devices.

The official said public sector devices include mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers. As to whether internet service providers should be restricted from permitting the download of such products by private citizens, an evaluation needs to be conducted to assess the legality and feasibility of such a ban, and MODA and other ministries will gather further information on the matter and study similar measures implemented in other countries.

The official added that since the release of the Principles on Limiting Harmful Products Against National Information Security Used by Government Agencies (各機關對危害國家資通安全產品限制使用原則), the public sector has been banned from using Chinese-made software.