Canada has blocked the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.
Canada on Monday also moved to block federal employees from downloading the application in the future, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said in a statement. TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone, the statement added.
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TikTok said it was disappointed by Canada’s decision. It was issued “without citing any specific security concerns about TikTok or contacting us to discuss any concerns prior to making this decision”, a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The move, which comes days after the European Commission imposed a similar ban, underscores the growing lobby against TikTok over concerns about its proximity to the Chinese government and its hold over user data across the world.
Canada’s federal and provincial privacy regulators are also jointly investigating the app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance Ltd, over concerns about the platform’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
“For the broader public, the decision to use a social media application or platform is a personal choice,” the Treasury Board statement said.
“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.”
Canada’s action is another potential thorn in Sino-Canadian relations, which have been tense in recent years, most recently over accusations by Ottawa that China has tried to influence its elections and that it has been running air and maritime surveillance activities.
Beijing denies those allegations and has urged Ottawa to stop what it has described as unwarranted speculation and smearing.