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National security chief to back TikTok ban if proven for cyber espionage use

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser and concurrent National Security Council Director General Eduardo Año will not hesitate to recommend the banning of video-sharing app TikTok in the Philippines if proven that it is being used by China for cyber espionage.

In a radio interview this morning, Año disclosed that he has ordered the task force headed by Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya to expedite its investigation on TikTok app over possible data breach.

Since the TikTok app originated in China and partly owned by its government, Año believes that there's a possibility that the said country may use it for cyber espionage to gather personal information of the subscribers. There are more than 44 million Tiktok users in the country to date.

"'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 nagsusubscribe dyan," he pointed out.

Once there will be sufficient evidence that China has been carrying out cyberattacks against the Philippines using TikTok app, Año said that total ban of the said app might be possible.

"Hindi pa naman natin 'yan sinasabi [na ibaban 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 tsaka tayo magsasagawa ng adjustment," the former Interior and Local Government chief said.

Año assured that the NSC continues to assess the said app to ensure the protection of the Filipino users and the government system.

"Patuloy pa rin ang ginagawang assessment at pag-aaral ng National Security Council dyan. 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.

"Na-hack ang ating PSA, PhilHealth, kaya kailangan maghanda tayo dito," the official added.

There are several countries that have completely banned Tiktok on reasons of threat to their national security. These include Syria, Afghanistan,