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Cybersecurity: Canada bans TikTok on government-issued devices

*The Canadian Government’s decision to block TikTok on official devices reflects widening security and data privacy worries from European Union and United States’ officials over the Chinese-owned video sharing app

*TikTok is available to discuss privacy and security of Canadians, says Spokesperson

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Canadian Government Monday, February 27, 2023, announced the North American country is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices.

ConsumerConnect learnt the government’s action has reflected widening worries from Western officials over the Chinese-owned video sharing app in the global digital ecosystem.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the measure to block the app on official devices might be a first step to further action or that it might be it.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau stated: “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 business to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices.”

“I’m always a fan of giving Canadians the information for them to make the right decisions for them,” said the Prime Minister.

EU, US measures against  TikTok

The European Union’s (EU) executive branch also said recently, that it had temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.

The EU’s action followed similar moves in the United States (US), where over half of the 50 states and Congress of the country have banned TikTok from official government devices.

Subsequently, TikTok officials resorted to a public charm offensive amid a stalemate in US President Joe Biden’s White House, in Washington, D.C.

Recently, Canada’s Federal privacy watchdog and its provincial counterparts in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec as well announced an investigation to delve into whether the app complies with Canadian privacy legislation, agency report said.

On consumers’ security and privacy concerns

TikTok is wildly popular with young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised fears that Beijing could use it to collect data on Western consumers, or push pro-China narratives and misinformation, according to report.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore 2020.

The technology giant also faces intensifying scrutiny from Europe and America over security and data privacy amid worries that the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or sweep up users’ information.

Incidentally, their reactions to the use of the app are coming as China and the West are locked in a wider tug of war over technology, ranging from spy balloons to computer chips in recent times.

Consumers, report stated, are calling for TikTok to be pulled from app stores in the US.

In his remarks on the country’s move in this regard, Canadian Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said the Federal Government would also block the app from being downloaded on official devices in the future.

Fortier, in a statement, further noted the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that it “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

The app will be removed from Canadian Government-issued phones Tuesday, February 28, according to report.

“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone.

The President of Canadian Treasury Board said: “While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”

Recent media reports raised concerns about potential Chinese interference in recent Canadian elections, prompting opposition parties to call for a public inquiry into alleged foreign election interference.

TikTok reacts to users’ security concerns

In response to a flurry of reactions to usage of its youth-oriented app, a TikTok Spokesperson, in a e-mail statement, reportedly noted: “It’s curious that the Government of Canada has moved to block TikTok on government-issued devices—without citing any specific security concern or contacting us with questions—only after similar bans were introduced in the EU and the US.”

The company is always available to discuss the privacy and security of Canadians, the statement said.

The e-mail also stated: “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.”

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