Canada bans TikTok on government devices

By Mike Wendling, BBC News

Getty Images Person Using Phone OutdoorsGetty Images

Canada will ban the video app TikTok from all government-issued devices starting Tuesday.

The decision follows a review by Canada’s chief information officer, and the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision.

This comes just days after the European Commission announced a similar ban.

Security issues

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were enough security concerns around the app to demand the change.

“Maybe this is the first step, maybe this is the only step we need to take,” he said Monday at a news conference near Toronto.

TikTok has been criticized for its use of personal information and its ties to the Chinese government.

The short video app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd.

US federal employees were banned from using TikTok late last year and on Monday the White House gave government agencies 30 days to remove the app from their systems.

A number of US universities have banned the use of the app on their networks. Wider public bans have been implemented in India and several other Asian countries.

The company insists that Chinese government officials do not have access to user data and that a Chinese version of the app is separate from that used in the rest of the world. But last year, the company admitted that some employees in China could access European users’ data.

The ban on European Commission employees is expected to come into force on March 15.

Canadian privacy regulators are also investigating TikTok over concerns about user data, particularly whether the company obtains “valid and meaningful” consent from users when collecting personal information.

About a quarter of Canadian adults use the app, according to a recent survey by researchers at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Social Media Lab.

In a statement, Mona Fortier, the president of the Treasury Board of Canada, said the government is “committed to ensuring the security of government information.”

The app will be removed from public phones this week and other devices, and its download will be blocked in the future.

“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods allow considerable access to content on the phone,” Ms. Fortier said. “While the risks of using this app are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”

The Treasury Board, which oversees the operations of the federal government, includes the country’s chief information officer.

TikTok responds

In a statement, a company spokesperson said the ban on government-issued devices took place “without citing any specific security concerns regarding TikTok or contacting us to discuss any concerns before making this decision “.

“We are always available to meet with our government officials to discuss how we protect the privacy and security of Canadians, but targeting TikTok in this way does nothing to achieve that shared goal,” the spokesperson said.

“All this does is prevent those responsible from reaching the public on a platform loved by millions of Canadians.”

Chad Sutton

"Typical zombieaholic. General twitter fanatic. Food fanatic. Gamer. Unapologetic analyst."

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