May 24, 2024 Jester P. Manalastas 71 views

IN a bid to protect Filipinos from manipulation and misinformation campaigns using social media, app stores and internet hosting services such as Tiktok should be banned in the country.

This is the gist of the House Bill 10489 filed by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., stressing that with the rising tension between China and the Philippines, the government must take positive preemptive action to protect the citizens from manipulation and misinformation campaigns using social medis — from any foreign adversary country.

The measure is intended to regulate “foreign adversary controlled applications” and the app stores and internet hosting services through which users access them.

An example of an application that could be covered by the ban is TikTok, which currently has 49.9 million active users in the Philippines.

Abante cited TikTok as an example due to its relationship to its parent company ByteDance, which “reveals a connection to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese government that cannot be overlooked.”

Under the Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Regulation Act, app stores and internet hosting services will be prohibited from enabling the distribution, maintenance, or updating of a foreign adversary controlled application.

Section 2 of the measure defines a fogreign adversary controlled application as a website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application that is operated, directly or indirectly (including through a parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate), by a covered company that is (1) is controlled by a foreign adversary, and (2) that is determined by the President to present a significant threat to the national security of the Philippines.

Under the proposed bill, it is the President who will identify which countries are deemed as foreign adversaries of the Philippines. A “foreign adversary country” is defined in HB 10489 as any country identified by the Chief Executive as “having interests adversarial to that of the Philippines, in terms of threats to national security and our territorial integrity.”

“We need to take a preemptive action to prevent the clear and present danger of foreign adversary controlled companies operating in the Philippines with the purpose and capability of harvesting data from unsuspecting subscribers,” he said.

The solon pointed out that Tiktok collects personal data from its unsuspecting users and subscribers, which is alarming as “Tiktok can easily transmit these data to the Chinese government.”

Because of this capability, several countries have already enacted legislation to regulate and even ban Tiktok in their territories, including India, which imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps like messaging app WeChat in 2020 over privacy and security concerns.

Countries that have followed suit are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Indonesia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.