Canada has banned TikTok on all government-issued devices, citing an “unacceptable” security risk to privacy and security.
TikTok is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, which has drawn scrutiny from around the world. When asked whether the county would enact a full country-wide ban similar to India, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to entertain the idea. “This may be a first step; it may be the only step we need to take,” Trudeau commented. Trudeau says the ban on government devices may impact people to make decisions about their own phones.
“Many Canadians, businesses and private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices in consequence,” Trudeau adds. The Canadian ban on TikTok for government devices goes into effect on February 28. Federal employees will be blocked from downloading the application by Canada’s Treasury Board.
“While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised,” adds Treasury Board President Mona Fortier. The Canadian ban was issued “without citing any specific security concern or contacting us with questions,” says a TikTok spokesperson.
The European Commission imposed a similar ban on TikTok last week, following bans from the U.S. Senate in December 2022. India banned TikTok country-wide in 2020, following news that former President Donald Trump was planning on instituting a country-wide ban.
“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,” continues the Canada Treasury Board in its official guidance for Canadian citizens about the ban.
TikTok has more than 100 million monthly active users in the United States alone. It is facing growing scrutiny in the United States and other countries over how much access the Chinese government has to data collected by TikTok.