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TikTok classified in Taiwan as national security threat: Minister

03/22/2024 05:09 PM
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Unsplash photo for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) The social media platform TikTok, which is owned by a China-based company, has been deemed as a dangerous product in Taiwan, according to Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang (唐鳳).

That classification has been made because TikTok is controlled by foreign adversaries, Tang said during a legislative hearing earlier this week, indicating an alignment with the United States' view that the platform is a national security threat.

In Taiwan, any product that can be significantly controlled by foreign adversaries, directly or indirectly, is considered a threat to national information and communication security and is deemed a dangerous product, she said.

Taiwan has classified TikTok as a dangerous product, Tang said, in response to a question by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) on the government's stance regarding the short-form video hosting service, which may be banned in the U.S. soon.

On March 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that seeks to give ByteDance, TikTok's Chinese parent company, about six months to divest the U.S. assets of the platform or face a nationwide ban.

The bill will now be forwarded to the U.S. Senate, and if passed there, will be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

In Taiwan, the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) has proposed an amendment to the Cyber Security Management Act, based on similar concerns stated in the U.S. House bill about the indirect influence of foreign adversaries, Tang said during Tuesday's legislative hearing.

When asked Thursday about the proposed law amendment, the ministry told CNA that "dangerous products" include those provided by the substantive controller of sources of infiltration, as referred to in the Anti-Infiltration Act.

TikTok is currently banned for use in Taiwan government agencies and on their premises.

The Cabinet will decide whether to extend that ban to schools, non-governmental agencies, and public spaces, Tang said in Tuesday's legislative hearing.

Any decision to ban the public use of TikTok is a significant policy matter that involves not just a legal process but also assessments of factors such as feasibility, according to the digital ministry.

"The final decision will be made by the Cabinet after extensive consideration of opinions in the various sectors," the ministry said, adding that it has been participating in inter-ministerial meetings on the issue, convened by the Cabinet.

The digital ministry said it is also monitoring the progress of the TikTok bill in the U.S. Congress.

Under relevant regulations imposed by the Cabinet in 2019 and revised in 2022, an information and communication system or service that could impact the operation of government or the stability of society is classed as a product having the potential to endanger national information and communication security.

(By Lin Ching-yin and Sunny Lai)

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