Fear of TikTok Infects Canada: The Government Prohibits ‘App’ on Devices for Federal Officials and Parliamentarians

    The Executive of Justin Trudeau took the measure arguing that "the application presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security"

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    As of Tuesday, devices for Canadian federal employees have been banned from accessing TikTok. Parliamentarians will also be banned from using the application starting this Friday. Justin Trudeau’s government justified the measure by pointing out risks to privacy and security. In this way, Canada joins the Administration of the United States and the European Commission, entities that recently implemented the same interdiction for the work devices of their personnel.

    Mona Fortier, president of the Canadian Treasury Board (the body that oversees the federal civil service), said Monday that Canada’s Director of Information Systems determined that TikTok “poses an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” Fortier added that the application’s methods “provide considerable access” to the contents of the devices. The office of the speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, sent a message hours later to the parliamentarians to inform them that the ban will apply from this Friday. The provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta announced the implementation of the same measure for their government personnel.

    Reflect on their own security

    The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, affirmed this Monday -in the framework of an event in the metropolitan area of ​​Toronto- that he takes Canadians’ freedom of expression and use of the Internet very seriously, “but we also have very important principles online protection for your safety”. Trudeau added that this is a “significant first step” that could prompt the country’s inhabitants to “reflect on their own security.”


    TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, expressed disappointment in the move in an email to the CBC, noting that the Canadian government failed to cite “specific security concerns” about the application, in addition to not having contacted its managers to share any concerns before making the decision. The video network regretted that because of this ban, officials cannot reach the public through “a platform loved by millions of Canadians.”

    The TikTok ban for Canadian officials and parliamentarians comes against a backdrop of acrimonious relations between Ottawa and Beijing; ties that have not returned to normal since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, vice president of Huawei, at the Vancouver airport in December 2018 at the request of Washington for alleged fraud. The executive was released in September 2021, as were two Canadians detained by the Chinese regime in retaliation.

    Justin Trudeau and Xi Jinping were caught on camera, in an unfriendly exchange, at the G-20 summit in Bali last November. The Chinese president showed Trudeau his disagreement with an alleged revelation to the media of private conversations. In early February, the United States shot down a Chinese balloon that had also flown over Canadian airspace. China claimed it was a weather instrument, but the Americans dismissed it as a spy balloon. And in recent days, Canadian media have published that Beijing tried to intervene in the 2021 Canadian federal elections. The opposition demands that the Trudeau government set up an independent commission to investigate the matter.

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