tiktok banned canada

TikTok banned in Canada for use by federal government due to security risk

Have you heard that TikTok is getting banned in Canada? Well, that's not true. Not entirely, anyway, but you wouldn't be alone in thinking that the platform's Canadian days are numbered as word spreads of a new government policy that, as of Tuesday, no longer permits the social media app to be used on federal devices.

Long story short, anyone who works for the Canadian government will see TikTok disappear from their work-issued phones on Feb 28, 2023.

Federal public servants will not be able to redownload the Chinese-owned app in the future, or view any content from TikTok's servers on their work computers.

The service is set to be blocked entirely on Canadian government-owned devices over security and surveillance concerns — perhaps not-so-coincidentally as tensions mount between leaders in the West and those in Bejing over closely-related issues.

"The Government of Canada is committed to keeping government information secure. We regularly monitor our systems and take action to address risks," reads a news release issued by Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat on Monday.

"Effective February 28, 2023, the TikTok application will be removed from government-issued mobile devices. Users of these devices will also be blocked from downloading the application in the future. Following a review of TikTok, the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that it presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security."

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier issued this statement Monday afternoon, hours after The National Post reported on an internal memo sent by Global Affairs Canada to its staffers about the ban.

The Global Affairs Canada memo reportedly stated that a review had found "TikTok's data collection methods may leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks."

"The decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being taken as a precaution, particularly given concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected from mobile devices, and is in line with the approach of our international partners," said Fortier similarly in her statement.

"On a mobile device, TikTok's data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone," continues the statement, which notes also that there is "no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised."

All Canadians can still use TikTok, with the exception of government employees on their work devices, though the same cannot be said for everyone on Earth; the service has, at one point or another, been banned either permanently or temporarily in several countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Syria, Bangladesh, Iran and Pakistan.

Google searches for the phrase "is TikTok banned in Canada" have been skyrocketing in Ontario today, as "will TikTok be banned in Canada," reflecting the sentiments of some on Twitter who wonder if this government-specific ban could one day bleed over into the public realm.

"For the broader public, the decision to use a social media application or platform is a personal choice," reads the Treasury Board's release.

"However, the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) guidance strongly recommends that Canadians understand the risks and make an informed choice on their own before deciding what tools to use."

It's of note that Canada is not the first country to ban its employees from using TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

The app was recently banned for use by employees within two major European Union institutions over what Reuters describes as "growing concerns about the Chinese short video-sharing app and its users' data."

At least 32 American states currently have TikTok bans in place for either government-issued devices, government agencies, government employees or even government contractors.

Just last week, the Officer of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced a joint investigation with several of its provincial counterparts into whether or not TikTok's practices "are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation."

The investigation will also look into whether the tech company is getting "valid and meaningful consent" for the collection of personal data, especially from children, noting that "an important proportion of TikTok users are younger users."

Lead photo by

Olivier Bergeron

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