TikTok Banned on Canadian Govt. Devices


TikTok app on a phone | Image by hareluya

The popular short-form video application TikTok is no longer permitted on Canadian government-issued mobile devices.

The decision from Ottawa will restrict users of the devices from downloading the app, while anyone who currently has it will see it removed.

According to a statement from Mona Fortier, the president of the Treasury Board of Canada, a review of the app by “the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that it presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

In the announcement, Fortier said the decision was precautionary.

“While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised,” she said.

Moreover, Fortier encouraged Canadians to consider the risks applications such as TikTok might pose.

“For the broader public, the decision to use a social media application or platform is a personal choice. However, the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) guidance strongly recommends that Canadians understand the risks and make an informed choice on their own before deciding what tools to use,” the statement explained.

Restrictions like those announced by Ottawa already exist within the U.S. federal government and in most states. The European Commission has also regulated the application’s use.

As reported in The Dallas Express, in early February, Governor Greg Abbott announced a ban on the use of TikTok on state-issued electronic devices in Texas. Each agency within the state was given until February 15 “to implement its own policy to enforce this statewide plan,” according to the governor’s statement.

Abbott alleged that the application “harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity.”

TikTok issued a statement calling the Canadian minister’s recent announcement “curious” since “similar bans” had recently been enacted in the United States and Europe, as reported by CNN. The company also claims no one from Ottawa reached out to discuss the alleged security issues with the app.

Concerns have grown among officials in the United States and elsewhere that the China-based application is vulnerable to pressure from Beijing. ByteDance, the parent company that owns TikTok, could be ordered to deliver sensitive personal information belonging to users of the app, including the data of users based in the United States and Canada.

In an email to Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC, a spokesperson for TikTok said the company is “disappointed that the Chief Information Officer of Canada has moved to block TikTok on government-issued mobile devices without citing any specific security concerns about TikTok or contacting us to discuss any concern prior to 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 singling out TikTok in this way does nothing to achieve that shared goal. All it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform loved by millions of Canadians,” read the statement.

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