Canada announced Monday that it is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, reflecting concerns among Western officials about the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it could be the first step to further action or it could be.
“I suspect that as the government takes the important step of telling all federal employees they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from businesses to individuals will reflect on the security of their data and possibly make choices,” Trudeau said. .
“I always admire Canadians giving them the information to make the right decisions for them,” he added.
The European Union’s executive said last week that it had temporarily banned TikTok of phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.
The EU action follows similar moves in the United States, More than half of the states and Congress have banned TikTok from official government agencies.
Last week, Canada’s federal privacy watchdog and its provincial counterparts in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec announced an investigation into whether the app complied with Canadian privacy legislation.
TikTok is hugely popular among young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised concerns that Beijing could use it to collect data on Western users or spread pro-China narratives and disinformation. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020
TikTok is facing intense scrutiny from Europe and America over security and data privacy amid concerns the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or wipe users’ information. It comes as China and the West engage in a broader conflict over technology ranging from spy balloons to computer chips.
Canada Treasury Board Chair Mona Fortier said the federal government will also ban downloads of the app on official devices in the future.
Fortier said in a statement that Canada’s CIO determined it “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
The app will be removed from phones issued by the Canadian government on Tuesday.
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide massive access to the contents of the phone,” Fortier said.
“While the risks of using this app are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”
Recent media reports have also raised concerns about possible Chinese interference in the recent Canadian election, prompting opposition parties to call for a public investigation into alleged foreign election interference.
a TikTok spokesperson said in an email.
The company is always available to discuss the privacy and security of Canadians, the statement said. “Unifying TikTok in this way does nothing towards that common goal,” the email states. “All it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform that millions of Canadians love.”
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