Taiwan opens probe into TikTok over suspected ‘illegal commercial operations’

TikTok has recently been scrutinised in Taiwan since the government banned its departments from using the Chinese-owned social media platform. Meanwhile, Taiwanese government also opened an investigation into TikTok parent company ByteDance for suspected illegal commercial operations on the island following a media report. 

In a statement, Taiwan’s China-policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said that on December 9, they first came across suspicions of ByteDance operating a subsidiary to tout for business on the island, following a report by Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper. 

Responding to the media report, the council’s working group said there indeed was an alleged breach of the law referring to what the media report had called the company’s “illegal commercial operations” which the legal authorities are now investigating. 

The newspaper claims that ByteDance has set up a subsidiary look to expand its business on the island which is a breach of Taiwanese law passed three years ago which does not allow Chinese social media platforms to open commercial operations on the island. 

Furthermore, Taiwan also prohibits a wide range of Beijing’s business operations including its social media platforms to its highly sought after chip manufacturing industry. In 2019, the Taiwanese government passed an anti-infiltration law in a bid to combat what they see as China’s efforts to influence the island’s politics and democratic processes through funding politicians, media, and so on. 

This also comes days after the island also banned Chinese apps including TikTok from government departments. They have also accused Beijing of using such apps “to carry out cognitive operations and infiltration against other countries” while highlighting the risk of the Chinese government collecting users’ personal information. 

Additionally, Taiwan has also accused China of using social media to spread disinformation on the island which Beijing claims as its territory. While the short video platform still trails behind Meta’s Facebook and Instagram in terms of usage on the island it is becoming increasingly popular among the Taiwanese youth, said a report by Reuters citing market research companies. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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