Federal employees have been banned from using the Chinese-based TikTok video app on Canadian government-issued computing devices.
“Effective February 28, the TikTok application will be removed from government-issued mobile devices,” Treasury Board Chair Mona Fortier said. said in a statement today, “Users of these devices will also be barred from downloading the application in future.
“Following a review of TikTok, Canada’s Chief Information Officer determined that it presented an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
The statement added that the decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being taken as a precaution, especially given concerns about the legal regime that governs information collected from mobile devices. is, and is in line with, the approach of our international partners. On mobile devices, TikTok’s data collection practices allow considerable access to the phone’s content.
“While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.
“For the wider public, the decision to use a social media application or platform is a personal choice. However, the Canada Cyber Security Center (Cyber Centre) of the Communications Security Establishment Advice strongly recommends that Canadians understand the risks and make an informed choice themselves before deciding which tools to use.
The Treasury Board is responsible for advising the government on digital standards for federal employees.
The announcement comes after Canada’s federal privacy commissioner as well as three provincial privacy commissioners. launched an investigation last week In TikTok, an investigation into how the video-streaming platform collects personal data from Canadian users.
The investigation is starting now because in the class action lawsuit United States of america and Canadian residents, the commissioners said in a statement.
it also comes after washington banned in december on US government employees using TikTok on federal equipment. In February the European Commission suspended Use of the TikTok application on your corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission’s Mobile Device Service. Employees have until March 15 to remove it from their devices.
Tiktok is owned by Beijing’s ByteDance. according to newsweekByteDance is not actually registered in China, but is incorporated in the Cayman Islands.
There are allegations that the company is close to the Chinese government. While the company insists that its Singapore-based CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is independent, Last month the New York Times said Twelve former employees and executives of TikTok and ByteDance believe their decision-making power is limited.
“Decisions about the service — including moves to emphasize livestreaming and purchases on TikTok — are made by Zhang YimingThe people, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, said the ByteDance founder, as well as a top ByteDance strategy executive and head of TikTok’s research and development team, “the article says in part.
Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the US Congress on March 23, According to CNN. It follows the company’s COO’s testimony before Congress last September.
There is also a fear that TikTok may collect personal data of subscribers.
last June, Buzzfeed reported China-based ByteDance employees repeatedly accessed non-public data about US TikTok users, over leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings.
In December, Forbes reported that an internal investigation by ByteDance found that employees tracked several journalists covering the company, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they were members of ByteDance employees. were in similar places.
In August, 2020, Public Safety Canada recognized growing international concern about TikTok and perceived privacy concerns In a research note quoting news media.
These allegations would cost TikTok and ByteDance dearly to be dropped by the general public in Western countries due to the app’s massive usage across the world. In an effort to diffuse the criticism in the US, TikTok last year created a new division called US Data Security (USDS), “to focus and govern our ongoing efforts to strengthen our data protection policies and protocols.” , to further protect our users, and instill confidence in our systems and controls in the United States,” the company said. The goal is to reduce TikTok employee access to US user data and reduce data transfers across regions, including China.
“TikTok has essentially tried to pretend that its data is closed, so that its US data remains in the US and its China data remains in China,” said Kendra Schaefer, head of tech policy research at Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China. ” Was told in Fast Company. “But it’s hard for American policy makers to assimilate.”