Japan’s government is set to be urged to ban TikTok if it is seen being used for disinformation campaigns, leading lawmakers in the country said on Monday.
A group of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) representatives plans to compile a proposal next month urging the government to sanction social networking services if they are being maliciously used.
Many US lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to ban the popular Chinese-owned social media app, alleging it could be used for data collection, content censorship and to harm to children’s mental health.
“If it’s verified that an app has been intentionally used by a certain party of a certain country for their influence operations with malice… promptly halting the service should be considered,” lawmaker Norihiro Nakayama said.
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He added: “Making it clear that operations can be halted will help keep app operators in check as it means TikTok’s 17 million users [in Japan], for example, will lose their access. It will also lead to sense of security for users.”
Nakayama, a senior member of a ruling party lawmakers’ group looking into ways to enhance Japan’s economic security, said the proposal will not be targeting any particular platform.
A string of Western governments and institutions have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including the UK parliament, the Dutch and Belgian administrations and the New Zealand parliament.
In Japan, the use of TikTok and other social networking services are prohibited on government devices that handle confidential information.
Nakayama said further restrictions should be considered only after looking into their data-handling and other operations.
“I believe we first need to make it possible for people outside to firmly grasp how data is being handled whenever concerns are raised,” Nakayama said.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara
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