TORONTO (AP) — Canada announced Monday it will ban TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, reflecting widespread concerns among Western authorities about the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it could be the first step to the next step, or it could be.
“As the government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians, from businesses to private individuals, will be making choices about the security of their own data,” Trudeau said. .
“I’ve always been a fan of giving Canadians the information to make the right decisions,” he added.
The European Union’s executive branch announced last week that it had temporarily banned TikTok From phones used by employees as a cyber security measure.
The EU’s move follows similar moves in the US, More than half of these 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 law.
TikTok is hugely popular among young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised fears that Beijing could use it to collect data on Western users or push pro-China narratives and disinformation. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.
TikTok has faced intense scrutiny over security and data privacy from Europe and the United States, amid concerns that the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or scrape users’ information. It comes as China and the West are locked in a broader tug-of-war over technology ranging from spy balloons to computer chips.
Treasury Board of Canada Chair Mona Fortier said the federal government will prevent the app from being downloaded to official devices in the future.
Canada’s chief information officer “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” Fortier said in the statement.
The app will be removed from Canadian government-issued phones on Tuesday.
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide substantial access to the phone’s contents,” Fortier said.
“While the risks of using this app are clear, we have no evidence that government data has been compromised.”
Recent media reports have raised concerns about possible Chinese interference in recent Canadian elections, prompting opposition parties to call for a public inquiry into foreign election interference.
“It is curious that the Canadian government moved to block TikTok on government-issued devices — without citing any specific security reasons or contacting us — only after similar bans were introduced in the EU and the US,” a TikTok spokesperson said. An email.
The company is always ready to discuss the privacy and security concerns of Canadians, the statement said. “Isolating TikTok in this way does nothing to achieve that shared goal,” the email said. “All it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform that is loved by millions of Canadians.”