Japan lawmakers eye ban on TikTok, others if used improperly


FILE PHOTO: A person holds a smartphone as Tik Tok logo is displayed behind in this picture illustration taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) -A group of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers plans to compile a proposal next month urging the government to ban social networking services such as TikTok if they are used for disinformation campaigns, an LDP lawmaker said on Monday.

Many U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to ban the popular Chinese-owned social media app, alleging the app could be used for data collection, content censorship and 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," Norihiro Nakayama told Reuters in an interview.

"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 said.

Nakayama, a senior member of a ruling party lawmakers' group looking into ways to enhance Japan's economic security, said that proposal will not be targeting at 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 (SNSs) 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.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Miho Uranaka, Editing by Louise Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)

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