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Canada banning video app TikTok on government-issued mobile devices

Move follows U.S. and EU
The TikTok logo is seen on a cell phone in Boston, Oct. 14, 2022. The federal government is banning TikTok from its mobile devices just days after federal and provincial privacy commissioners launched an investigation into the social media platform. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michael Dwyer

The federal government is banning TikTok from government-issued mobile devices days after federal and provincial privacy commissioners launched an investigation into the social media platform.

A statement from Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said the application will be removed from mobile devices on Tuesday.

The decision follows a review by the chief information officer of Canada, who determined that TikTok “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

“While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised,” Fortier said in the statement, adding the ban is a precautionary measure that brings Canada’s policy in line with international partners.

Both the U.S. and the European Union have recently banned government staff from using TikTok on work-issued devices.

While the ban doesn’t go as far as outlawing the app entirely in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it might encourage people and businesses to reflect on the security of their own data.

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

The video platform has long been embroiled in privacy concerns because the Chinese government has a stake in its owner, ByteDance, and laws allow the country to access user data.

Last week, the federal privacy watchdog and its counterparts in B.C., Alberta and Quebec announced an investigation to delve into whether it complies with Canadian privacy legislation.

The ban comes at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions with China.

Earlier this month, the U.S. shot down a Chinese high-altitude balloon that had also flown through Canadian airspace, saying it was a suspected spy device. China’s government has said it was a weather balloon that went off course.

In addition, recent media reports have raised concerns about potential Chinese interference in the last two Canadian federal elections, prompting opposition parties to call for a public inquiry into alleged foreign election interference.

READ ALSO: TikTok banned from EU Commission phones over cybersecurity

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