Canadian government bans TikTok on civil servants’ work phones

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Employees of the Canadian federal government are no longer allowed to have the popular video app TikTok on their work phones. The app is now also prohibited on other government mobile devices.

Prime Minister Trudeau says concerns about the security of the app are so great that this policy change is necessary. “This may be just the first step, but it may also be the only step we need to take,” said Trudeau.

Canada is not the first to take measures against the use of the app by civil servants. The European Commission and the European Council imposed a similar ban, and in the Netherlands too, a majority in the House of Representatives wants government officials to no longer be allowed to have the app on their work phones. Such a ban has also been decided in the US.

Ties with China

The app is viewed with suspicion in many Western countries, partly due to concerns about child safety, privacy and the Chinese influence on TikTok through the Chinese parent company ByteDance. TikTok claims that the Chinese government has no access to user data and that the Chinese version of the app is completely separate from the version used in the rest of the world.

Despite this, journalists previously revealed that ByteDance personnel had spied on American journalists. In December, TikTok also made a change to its privacy policy for Europe, which allows Chinese employees – in violation of European privacy legislation – to access data from European users.

The app, which has about a billion monthly users worldwide, is used by about a quarter of the more than 38 million inhabitants in Canada. As of tomorrow, this will no longer happen on government work phones. At a later date, downloading the app on Canadian government work phones will also be made technically impossible.

TikTok: we have not been heard

TikTok rejects the Canadian government’s decision. According to the company, the ban on work phones was put in place “with no specific security concerns mentioned.” TikTok also says it was not contacted for consultation before the step was taken.

“We are always available for discussions with government officials to discuss how we protect the privacy and safety of Canadians,” a spokesperson said. “Picking TikTok out like this now doesn’t help achieve that goal. It just restricts officials from reaching people on a platform that millions of Canadians love.”

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