Who will be covered by the possible TikTok ban among gov’t security personnel?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — The National Security Council (NSC) said it is studying the possible ban of social media platform TikTok on the devices of government personnel in the security sector. Who will be covered by this policy if it will be implemented? 

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday, NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the ban may be implemented among personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard, and other uniformed personnel. Employees of civilian agencies involved in national security like the NSC itself and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency may also be covered, he added.

"The issue with TikTok is the possible control of the Chinese government over the app," Malaya said.

He noted that TikTok is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd.

"Under Chinese law, any Chinese company has to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party for whatever reason," Malaya pointed out.

He also explained that the social media platform has the capacity to determine a person's location, interactions, connections, and behavior.

"If for example an official of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency or the Philippine Army who is involved in the West Philippine Sea issue, if his movement can be tracked by the Chinese government through TikTok, that would be a serious breach of national security," he added.

Given the security issues Manila now has with Beijing, particularly over the West Philippine Sea, Malaya said they see the need to look into the banning of TikTok and possibly other Chinese apps on the devices of security sector employees and personnel.

Malaya said a team in the NSC was formed to focus on the matter. He hopes a decision will be released soon.

Other countries like United States and Canada earlier restricted Tiktok on government-issued devices due to cybersecurity concerns. The European Union in March also banned the app from staff devices across all three of its main institutions. India completely banned the platform and other similar applications in 2020.