TORONTO — Canada announced on Monday that it was banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, reflecting growing concerns from Western officials about the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this could be a first step towards further action or it could be.
“I suspect that as the government takes the important step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians, from businesses to individuals, will be thinking about the security of their own data. and may make choices,” Trudeau said. .
“I’m always a believer in giving Canadians the information they need to make the right decisions for them,” he added.
The executive branch of the European Union said last week that it had temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.
The EU action follows similar moves in the US, where more than half of states and Congress have banned TikTok from official government devices.
Last week, Canada’s federal privacy watchdog and its provincial counterparts in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec announced an investigation into whether the app complies with Canadian privacy laws. the protection of privacy.
TikTok is hugely popular with young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised concerns that Beijing could use it to collect data on Western users or to spread pro-China narratives and misinformation. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020
TikTok faces intense scrutiny from Europe and America over data security and privacy, as the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or scan user information. It comes as China and the West are locked in a wider tussle over technology ranging from spy balloons to computer chips.
Treasury Board of Canada President Mona Fortier said the federal government would also prevent the app from being downloaded to official devices in the future.
Fortier said in a statement that Canada’s Chief Information Officer has determined that he “poses an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
The app will be removed from Canadian government-issued phones on Tuesday.
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide tremendous access to phone content,” Fortier said.
“While the risks of using this app are clear, we have no evidence at this stage that any government information has been compromised.”
Recent media reports have also raised concerns about potential Chinese interference in recent Canadian elections, prompting opposition parties to call for a public inquiry into alleged foreign interference in the elections.
“It is curious that the Government of Canada decided to block TikTok on government-issued devices – without citing any specific security concerns or contacting us with questions – only after similar bans were introduced in the EU and US,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email.
The company is always available to discuss the privacy and security of Canadians, the statement said. “Singularizing TikTok in this way does nothing to achieve this common goal,” the email reads. “All it does is prevent public servants from reaching the public on a platform enjoyed by millions of Canadians.”