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NSA Año: PH TikTok ban possible if app proven to be used for espionage

National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año on Saturday said a total ban on TikTok in the country was possible if the social media platform was proven to be used by China for espionage and cyberattacks.

"'Yang mga apps na 'yan, galing kasi sa China 'yang mga apps na 'yan, malaki ang posibilidad na nakukuha nila 'yung mga data pati mga private details ng mga nagsu-subscribe dyan," Año said in a statement.

(Because these apps came from China, there is a huge possibility that they are acquiring data and the private details of their subscribers.)

He added that he would not hesitate to recommend a total ban on TikTok should there be sufficient evidence that China uses the app for cyberattacks against the Philippines.

"Hindi pa naman natin 'yan sinasabi [na iba-ban ang TikTok sa Pilipinas]. Doon na lang muna tayo sa mga pamahalaan, opisina na involved sa security matters. At kung mayroon tayong makitang ibang development saka tayo magsasagawa ng adjustment," Año said.

(We are not yet saying that TikTok will be banned in the Philippines. We will first go to governments and offices involved in security matters. If we see any other development, we will adjust.)

Año said he had ordered the task force headed by Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya to speed up its investigation of TikTok over possible data breaches.

Año emphasized that the National Security Council continued to assess the app to guarantee the protection of Filipino subscribers and the government system.

"Inatasan natin si Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya upang mag-submit ng report [kung] papaano ba ang gagawin natin ditong memo o polisiya para siguradong maprotektahan natin ang ating mga data, 'yung ating digital system kasi [nakakadala] na 'yung hacking na nangyayari," he said.

(We assigned Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya to submit a report on how we will draft this memo or policy to guarantee the protection of our data, our digital system, because the recent hackings are troubling.)

"Na-hack ang ating PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority), PhilHealth, kaya kailangan maghanda tayo dito," he added.

(Our PSA, PhilHealth, were hacked, so we need to prepare for it.)

The NSC had studied the possibility of banning TikTok among the government’s uniformed personnel to avoid a possible data leak.

Several countries, such as the United States, India, and Canada have announced moves to ban the Chinese company-owned TikTok on government phones and prohibit its use by state workers, due to concerns that the application might give sensitive use data to the Chinese government. — DVM, GMA Integrated News