The ban is said to take effect on March 1.
Canada is the latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok from government-issued devices. The US federal government, several states and the European Union have previously banned their workers from using the app on official devices.
According to a memo sent to Global Affairs Canada employees that was obtained by the National Post, TikTok “will be automatically removed and blocked from use on all government-issued mobile devices.” The report suggests that the government will announce the policy, which is expected to take effect March 1.
“An analysis of mobile app behavior in relation to the Digital and Services Policy found that TikTok’s data collection methods may leave users vulnerable to cyberattacks,” the memo said.
It may be that, like their US and EU counterparts, officials are concerned about the Chinese government gaining access to the data TikTok holds on Canadian citizens and residents. ByteDance, the parent of TikTok, is located in China, which has laws requiring companies to share data with authorities when requested.
TikTok is disappointed
ByteDance has rejected suggestions that the Chinese government can access such data. It claimed that Canadian user data is stored in the US and Singapore. However, it said former employees in China and the US have accessed data on American journalists, apparently in an attempt to detect sources of leaks from the company.
Canada’s Communications Security Establishment warned earlier this month that “adversary states may influence their domestic vendors to compromise products to advance their national interest, contrary to the interests of Canadian customers and Canadian interests,” but the report did not explicitly mention TikTok or China. Meanwhile, the Canadian government faces possible Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, as the National Post notes.
“We are disappointed that Canada’s Chief Information Officer decided to block TikTok on government-issued mobile devices without invoking specific security concerns about TikTok or contacting us to discuss any issues before making this decision,” a TikTok spokesperson told Engadget.
“We are always available to meet with our government officials to discuss how we protect the privacy and security of Canadians, but identifying TikTok in this way does nothing to achieve this shared goal. All it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform loved by millions of Canadians,” the spokesperson continued.