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Taiwan bans state-owned devices from running Chinese platform TikTok

Public sector bans of Chinese platform TikTok on the grounds of national security have arisen in both Taiwan and additional US states following last week’s ban in South Dakota.

US FCC Commissioner has praised Taiwan’s move as “smart” and its Ministry of Digital Affairs as having “strong leadership.”

By issuing his congratulations as a quote tweet, Carr implied his efforts in early November to collaborate with the governed land mass also known as the Republic of China were influential in the decision.

Speaking at the University of Michigan last Friday, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) director Chris Wray further reiterated security dangers associated with TikTok and warned against its use.

In addition to known issues with parent company ByteDance’s data collection and its potential as a tool for espionage, Wray said Beijing could have control over the app’s algorithm thusly allowing manipulations of content and therefore influence its users.

TikTok is known for its rabbit hole-like capability to court extremism. “A user could feasibly download the app at breakfast and be fed overtly white supremacist and neo-Nazi content before lunch,” said researchers Olivia Little and Abbie Richards of their studies on the apps behavior last year.

Last month, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council reportedly said the government has prohibited Chinese-funded corporations from operating online platforms in Taiwan and ByteDance does not operate a branch in Taiwan.

However, apps like Tik Tok and Douyin are still easily downloadable in Taiwan and ISPs have not been banned from allowing private citizens to install them.

Taiwan’s new public sector ban does prohibit TikTok on state-affiliated mobile phones, tablets and PCs.

A similar ban on state-affiliated devices was enacted by the US state of South Dakota on November 29. The South Dakota executive order prohibits not only the use of the platform, but also the downloading of the app, and even just visiting the site on any state-owned device with internet connectivity.

The United States Military and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have taken similar actions. On Monday, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster moved to do the same in his state.

On Tuesday, the US state of Maryland followed suit via an emergency directive from Governor Larry Hogan.

Hogan’s directive, however, is more comprehensive than others as it also applies to Huawei Technologies; ZTE Corp; Tencent Holdings, including but not limited to: Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet, and WeChat; Alibaba products, including but not limited to: AliPay; and Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

“These entities present an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the state, and may be involved in activities such as cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information,” said a canned statement from Maryland.

The directive requires agencies to remove any products from state networks, take measures to prevent their installation and restrict networks access to them within 14 days of its issuance.

“We are disappointed that the many state agencies, offices, and universities that have been using TikTok to build communities and connect with constituents will no longer have access to our platform,” TikTok reportedly said on Tuesday. ®