The Government of Canada has joined the European Commission and the U.S. House of Representatives in banning TikTok on government-issued devices amid ongoing concerns that the Chinese government can use the app to spy on users.
The ban, effective from Feb. 28, was announced earlier today by the Treasury Board of Canada. The decision was said to be “taken as a precaution, particularly given concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected from mobile devices and is in line with the approach of our international partners.”
“Following a review of TikTok, the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that it presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” the President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier said. “While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”
While the ban does not extend to personal devices, the board said that while using TikTok is a personal choice, Canadians should understand the risks of using TikTok to make an informed choice.
TikTok opposed the move, with a spokesperson telling the National Post that the company was disappointed with the decision, noting that the announcement did not cite any specific security concerns. The spokesperson also accused the Canadian government of “singling out” TikTok in a move that will “prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform loved by millions of Canadians.”
The announcement comes less than a week after the EC banned staff from using TikTok on their corporate and personal devices. Like Canada and the U.S. before it, the EC, the European Union’s executive arm, cited security concerns given parent company ByteDance Ltd.’s links to the Chinese government.
The EC ban went further than the Canadian ban, extending to personal devices with official EC or EU apps installed on them. Unlike the Canadians, which have applied a ban with less than 24 hours notice, EC employees have until March 15 to remove TikTok from their devices.
In the U.S., the House of Representatives banned TikTok on all House-issued mobile phones in December. There are also calls from some political representatives to ban the app on all devices within the U.S.