The federal government is removing and blocking the video-sharing platform TikTok from all federal government devices, citing security reasons.
In an email sent to Global Affairs employees Monday, department officials said the Chief Information Officer of Canada made the choice following a review. The review found that TikTok’s data collection methods could lead on to cyber attacks, the e-mail said.
The app will probably be deleted and blocked on all government-issued mobile devices on Feb. 28. The National Post first reported the story.
“The Government of Canada repeatedly works to make sure the cyber security of our networks by identifying threats and vulnerabilities, including those on social media platforms,” the e-mail said.
“The federal government will proceed to observe the situation and can work with partners to maintain the knowledge on our systems and networks secure.”
WATCH | Federal government will remove TikTok from government-issued devices
TikTok focuses on the sharing of short videos. Beijing-based web technology company ByteDance owns the platform; its ownership has raised concerns at a time of heightened tensions between China and the West.
Last week, Canada’s federal privacy regulator, together with three provincial counterparts, launched a joint probe of the platform’s collection, use and disclosure of users’ personal information.
Mona Fortier, the president of the treasury board, said in an announcement that the chief information officer determined the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone,” Fortier said within the statement.
“While the risks of using this application are clear, we’ve got no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”
Fortier added that the decision is in step with that of other governments.
The European Commission and European Council have banned TikTok on work devices, as have several American state governments. Most United States federal government employees are also barred from having the app on their government-issued phones, and america Congress is debating a bill which might ban TikTok across the country.
In response to an issue from CBC News Monday, Trudeau didn’t say whether his government is considering a country-wide ban.
“This may occasionally be a primary step, it will be the only step we want to take, but every step of the best way we will be ensuring we’re keeping Canadians secure,” Trudeau said in a news conference.
“Definitely, I think that as government takes the numerous step of telling all federal employees they’ll now not use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians … will reflect on the safety of their very own data and maybe make decisions in consequence.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last yr that Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is watching TikTok “very rigorously.”
TikTok responds to ban
A TikTok spokesperson said the federal government didn’t inform the corporate of the choice before to the announcement.
“We’re disillusioned that the Chief Information Officer of Canada has moved to dam TikTok on government-issued mobile devices without citing any specific security concerns about TikTok or contacting us to debate any concern prior to creating this decision,” the spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.
“We’re all the time available to fulfill with our government officials to debate how we protect the privacy and security of Canadians, but singling out TikTok in this fashion does nothing to attain that shared goal. All it does is prevent officials from reaching the general public on a platform loved by thousands and thousands of Canadians.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been a prolific user of TikTok. He has nearly 880,000 followers on the platform.
“We take all security concerns seriously and we’ll comply with any directives issued about banning TikTok from government devices to make sure that information is protected,” Singh said in an announcement Monday.
“When security and intelligence agencies express concerns about digital platforms, Canadians expect elected officials to threat them seriously and take crucial motion.”