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Following West, Philippine Military Bans China-Linked TikTok Over Security Concerns

The Philippines now prohibits its military personnel from using the popular Chinese-owned mobile application TikTok due to cybersecurity risks.

The move follows similar decisions made by Western countries, including Sweden, Norway, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Citing research conducted in the US, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said the app has a listening capability that makes it a perfect tool for cyber espionage.

“When you download it, you give certain permissions which include use of microphone, use of camera,” she explained. “So they have control [over] your phone and they can practically eavesdrop.”

Padilla, a cybersecurity expert herself, also finds it odd that the Beijing-made application is not being used in China.

“So that in itself, we say go figure,” she stressed.

‘Not Related’ to Current Tensions

The decision to ban the military use of a China-linked mobile application has nothing to do with Manila’s current problems with Beijing, according to Padilla.

Tensions are high between the two Asian countries over the South China Sea, resulting in several maritime altercations.

Padilla said the ban could extend to other foreign-made free apps that request permission to access some features of a user’s mobile phone.

“Not just TikTok, but the free apps that we have in our gadgets, they have the capability to turn on our microphones, to look at us and watch us while we sleep and turn on our cameras, you know, access our SMS, send messages to our contacts because we gave them permission when we downloaded these applications,” she said.

TikTok’s developer has insisted that the Chinese government has no access or control over its data.

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