MANILA — The Philippines should “seriously consider” banning Chinese social media app TikTok for security sector officials, an executive from the National Security Council (NSC) said on Saturday.
Several countries, including the United States and New Zealand, earlier banned TikTok on government-issued devices over fears that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can use the social media app for spying or propaganda.
“Siguro if there is a need for banning, it will not be for public school teachers, it will not be for the civilians, but it will be for the armed personnel,” said Jonathan Malaya, assistant director general of the NSC.
“We should seriously consider for the security sector alone, not for the civilian agencies of government,” he said in a news forum in Quezon City.
Malaya clarified that the NSC has yet to conduct a full study on whether or not TikTok in the Philippines is being used to peddle propaganda, especially as Manila and Beijing’s confrontations in the West Philippine Sea continue.
“We will need to study this very carefully… based on national security consideration,” Malaya said.
“We will discuss this with the National Security Adviser if it will be proper for the Philippines to take this step,” he said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had already “initiated professional measures so that we can be insulated from the spyware in these kinds of applications,” said Col. Medel Aguilar, spokesperson of the AFP.
“There is a policy already on the use of social media platforms to make sure the security of the organization is not exposed or compromised and the credibility of the Armed Forces is not also compromised,” Aguilar said.
There are certain instances in military camps where officials and visitors are required to surrender their mobile devices, while there are also areas where the recording of footage is prohibited, he added.
The European Commission and Canada had also banned the use of TikTok in its devices, but the social media giant has repeatedly denied accusations that it shares data to the Chinese government.
Its parent company ByteDance, however, had admitted that its China-based employees had accessed Americans' data but rejected allegations that information was being turned over to authorities.
In January 2023, TikTok was the third most used social media app in the Philippines, according to a study from Meltwater.