Canada is planning to ban TikTok from all government-issued devices by Feb. 28 over concerns that the app’s data collection methods leave users open to cyber attacks, says Treasury Board President Mona Fortier.
“Effective February 28, 2023, the TikTok application will be removed from government-issued mobile devices. Users of these devices will also be blocked from downloading the application in the future,” said Fortier in a statement issued on Feb. 27.
Fortier said the government’s decision to ban the application from devices it issues comes following a review of TikTok by Chief Information Officer Catherine Luelo, who determined it “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
Fortier added that Ottawa’s banning of TikTok is a precautionary measure given the application’s data-collection methods and said that there’s “no evidence at this point” suggesting any government information was compromised through the app.
“The decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being taken as a precaution, particularly given concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected from mobile devices, and is in line with the approach of our international partners,” the Treasury Board said.
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone.”
The general public is still free to download and use TikTok on their own personal devices, but Fortier says the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security “strongly recommends that Canadians understand the risks and make an informed choice on their own before deciding what tools to use.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the TikTok ban during a press conference on Feb. 27.
“I suspect that as government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from businesses to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices in consequence,” he said.
TikTok says the federal government neither cited specific security concerns nor contacted the company with questions prior to announcing the incoming ban, which it calls “curious.”
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email. “All it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform loved by millions of Canadians.”
Ottawa’s decision to ban TikTok from government-issued devices comes after the U.S. federal government and over 28 American states banned the app from being downloaded on state-owned devices.
The U.S. Armed Forces have also prohibited the app on military devices.
In Europe, both the European Commission and European Union Council recently ordered staff to remove TikTok from their corporate devices and phones, citing cybersecurity concerns.
TikTok is currently under investigation by Canada’s federal Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne, and also by the respective provincial privacy authorities for British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec.
Dufresne’s office, which announced the joint investigation on Feb. 23, said the commissioners will examine whether or not TikTok’s privacy and transparency practices are in line with Canadian legislation and also whether “valid and meaningful consent is being obtained [from users] for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.”
“The investigation will also determine if the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users,” his office wrote in a news release on Feb. 23.
From The Epoch Times