Canada announced Monday it is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, reflecting widening worries from Western officials over the Chinese-owned video sharing app.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it might be a first step to further action. “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,” Trudeau said.
The European Union’s executive branch said last week it has temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.
The EU’s action follows similar moves in the US, where more than half of the 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 to delve into whether the app complies with Canadian privacy legislation.
TikTok is wildly popular with 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 misinformation.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020 TikTok 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. It comes as China and the West are locked in a wider tug-of-war over technology ranging from spy balloons to computer chips.
Canadian Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said the federal government will also block the app from being downloaded on official devices in the future.
Fortier said in a statement 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 on Tuesday.
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone,” Fortier said. “While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”