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Canada bans Tick-Tock

by on01 March 2023

Joins US and EU

Canada has joined the US and EU banning the social notworking site TikTok from government-issued mobile devices.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said: “I suspect that as government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from business to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices. I’m always a fan of giving Canadians the information for them to make the right decisions for them.”

Not vaccines, masks and lock-downs, of course, but installing Tik Tok is something Trudeau will allow Canadians to decide for themselves if they are not government officials.

The EU’s executive branch said last week it had temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure. The European Parliament followed suit, banning staff from installing the app on any phone that had access to email or parliamentary networks.

In the US, more than half of the states and Congress have banned TikTok from official government devices. The White House widened the ban to include all government agencies, giving federal employees 30 days to remove the app from their work devices.

TikTok is wildly popular with young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised fears that Beijing could be collecting data on western users or pushing pro-China narratives and misinformation. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.

TikTok faces intensifying scrutiny from Europe and the US over security and data privacy amid worries that the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or sweep up users’ information. 

In December it had used its app to spy on a number of US journalists as part of a leak investigation and fired at least four staff as a result. Furthermore, it has repeatedly been shown to be less separate from its Chinese ownership than it claimed, with moderation guidelines (since revised) that advanced Beijing’s foreign policy and persistent links between the code base of TikTok and its mainland China sister app Douyin.

So far though, there is little to suggest that TikTok’s data harvesting doing much more than the same “surveillance capitalism” as Facebook and Instagram apply to sell targeted ads. Instead, TikTok has been asked to defend itself against charges of what it could do if the Chinese state forced its hand.


Last modified on 01 March 2023
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