The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is considering amendments to prevent Beijing from spreading disinformation through TikTok, a source said yesterday, as prosecutors and government officials investigate alleged illegal activity by the app’s Chinese owner.
The government is mulling amending the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法) or the National Security Act (國家安全法) to prevent false information from being spread through TikTok and its Chinese version, Douyin (抖音), as it might endanger national security, a source said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan has also formed a task force to discuss how to mitigate damage caused by Douyin, the source said.
The Cabinet believes that blocking the platform in Taiwan would not prevent people from using it, but could reduce risk, they said.
As Beijing continues to spread propaganda as part of its “united front” efforts, Taiwan’s lack of a competent authority overseeing the Internet leaves a “huge loophole” in terms of national security, a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Ministry of Digital Affairs should be that competent authority, they said, adding that laws were needed to regulate online content, as simply blocking Douyin cannot effectively prevent Beijing from infiltrating Taiwan.
The MAC in a statement on Sunday said it launched an investigation into TikTok on Dec. 9, after Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said at an interministerial meeting that the application posed a cybersecurity threat.
After the meeting, the council submitted to prosecutors information on the app’s activities, which could contravene the Criminal Code.
The disclosure of the probe came after the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) on Sunday reported that Beijing-headquartered ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動), the developer of TikTok, reportedly registered a company called Tiktoktaiwan Co Ltd (昇洋國際生技) with the Ministry of Economic Affairs in March 2018.
The firm on Nov. 2 changed its registered name to ByteDance Taiwan (字節跳動台灣), economic affairs ministry records showed.
ByteDance yesterday denied setting up a subsidiary in Taiwan.
The Ministry of Digital Affairs has already listed Douyin as a product that “endangers national information security,” as it is said to transmit user data back to Beijing.
Government employees are prohibited from using the application, which is also banned on information and communication devices in the public sector.
An anonymous national security official said that China is nurturing Taiwanese influencers in a bid to influence young Taiwanese through the platform.
To counter the influence of TikTok and Douyin, European countries and the US have focused on the platform’s information security problems, and Japan has focused on issues related to the spread of false information, while India blocked its use because it says the app puts national security and children at risk, the official said.
Apart from India, no other country bans the public from using the platform.
Additional reporting by Cheng Chi-fang and CNA
TWO REPORTS: The body called on EU states to support the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international organizations, as well as closer cooperation with the nation The European Parliament has backed deepening ties with Taiwan and voiced concern about heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait in reports on two major security policies, which include a passage denying that Taiwan is subordinate to China. The parliament adopted the annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in a vote of 338 in favor, 86 against and 122 abstentions during a plenary session from Monday to yesterday. It also passed the annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defense Policy in a vote of 350 in favor, 91 against and 96 abstentions. “Neither Taiwan
NEVER FORGET: Feb. 28 is a day to demand justice and redress, and remember the long, hard road Taiwanese walked to democracy, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said President-elect William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would work to safeguard the nation’s security and democracy to ensure freedom and economic prosperity, and that the tragic events of the 228 Incident “never happen in Taiwan again.” The Incident refers to the indiscriminate killing of a person in a crowd on Feb. 27, 1947, and the gunning down by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of protesters at a resulting demonstration the next day. It was followed by a brutal crackdown. Estimates of the number of eventual deaths vary from 10,000 to more than 30,000. The Incident was closely followed by the White
CRITICAL COMPONENTS: The tail was shielded because ‘enemy forces’ could estimate its speed and acoustic fingerprint by observing the propellers, an analyst said The nation’s first domestically built submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (海鯤號), yesterday was transferred to a dry dock for final harbor acceptance tests. The prototype has been undergoing harbor acceptance tests at the factory of shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船) in Kaohsiung since October last year after an unveiling ceremony in late September. On Monday evening, the prototype was towed from the CSBC factory to nearby Jong Shyn floating dock No. 8 and then transferred to a nearby dry dock, where the final tests were being conducted. As the submarine was being moved out of the factory to the floating dock, a large
NATIONALITY ACT: The draft amendments include a new provision that allows guardians of children who are stateless to apply for nationality on their behalf The Cabinet yesterday approved draft amendments to the Nationality Act (國籍法) to ease residency requirements for some foreign professionals applying for naturalization and to allow social welfare agencies to apply for naturalization on behalf of stateless children who are residents. The proposed amendments were approved by the Cabinet in September last year, but had to be reapproved and resubmitted because of the new legislative term that began on Feb. 1. The Ministry of the Interior said that the draft amendments would help improve the retention of professional talent by cutting the required period of residency for “foreign high-level professionals” (外國高級專業人才) applying for