The Indian government has banned over 50 Chinese-developed apps in the name of “national security and defense of India” for fear that these apps will “ultimately impinge upon the sovereignty and integrity of India.” Among these banned apps include ByteDance’s popular video-sharing social media TikTok.

The United States (US) government is also considering banning TikTok for the same reason, followed by Australia and the United Kingdom (UK). Both countries called for an investigation into the app.

Worldwide, TikTok has been increasingly facing backlash over security concerns, including its data-collecting practices that can be linked to China.

While India’s decision, alongside other critics, is warranted, should the Philippines be concerned, too?

TikTok’s questionable data-collecting practices

Like other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, TikTok collects user’s data. Data such as basic user information, social network contacts, location, and even payment information.

While it may come off as nothing unusual, however, it can compromise user’s privacy by transferring data over to the Chinese government for commercial purposes. Thus, it collects more data than required to provide information to advertising networks.

TikTok’s security risks

TikTok is more often than not prone to security risks, in which it’s prone to data breaches. Based on Check Point Research teams technical findings, cybercriminals can take advantage of the following vulnerabilities:

  • Get hold of TikTok accounts and manipulate their content
  • Delete videos
  • Upload unauthorized videos
  • Make private “hidden” videos public
  • Reveal personal information saved on the account such as private email addresses

Threat to national security

Perhaps the most pressing issue in terms of TikTok is its possible liaison with the Chinese government. US lawmakers have been calling for a probe into the matter, especially whether the alleged ties could pose a counterintelligence threat in the US.

In fact, some US agencies and branches of the military have banned TikTok’s use for their personnel like the Transportation Security Administration and the US Army.

Extreme caution advised

There’s no denying that the Philippines has also grown fond of TikTok, becoming Filipino’s surging favorite source of entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there’s no harm in getting into the fun, a fine line should be drawn when creating and uploading content to avoid one’s own personal privacy and data being compromised.

Whether the following points give enough reason for the Philippines to respond the same, whether the government will ban it or not, use Tiktok with extreme caution.

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