After announcing an investigation into TikTok last week, Canada to ban the app from all government issued devices by Tuesday, February 28, 2023. The European Union imposed a similar ban last week.
TikTok Banned on Government Devices
Citing the “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security as the reason, Ottawa banned the Chinese short video sharing app on Monday, February 27, 2023. The app has been on the radar of multiple countries due to the speculation about its proximity to China. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that this ban may be a first or the only step for ensuring the online safety of the Canadians. As per the statement of Treasury Board of the country, the ban will come into play on Tuesday. The federal employees would be restricted from downloading the app in the near future.
The board oversees the public administration of the nation. Mona Fortier, the President of the Treasury Board, further said that the data gathering method of the app endows ponderable access to the contents of the phone, and though the risks associated with using this app are crystal clear, currently there is no evidence of any compromised government information due to this app.
Impact on Sino-Canadian Relations
The ban of Chinese app by Ottawa has added to the deteriorated relations between the two nations. Prior to this ban, several instances had occurred that resulted in rising tension between Beijing and Ottawa. Mentioning concerns of its national security, Ottawa excluded China based firms from its critical minerals and telecommunication sectors. The country also banned the use of 5G equipment developed by ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., followed by an order for three Chinese companies to retract their investment in its critical minerals.
The federal and three privacy regulators of the country announced a joint investigation of TikTok last week amid the app’s method of colleting, using and disclosing personal information of its users. Ottawa also accused China of influencing its elections and running maritime and air surveillance activities. Contrary to all these allegations, Beijing had denied them all, further urging Ottawa to make these speculations come to an end.
Response By TikTok
At first, the social media platform proclaimed to be disappointed by the motion but successively issued another statement expressing its curiosity about Canada’s move to ban the app following similar bans in the United States and the European Union. A spokesperson for Chinese short video-sharing app claimed in an emailed statement that they have not been contacted for any queries about the app and that the ban was issued without elaborating on any specific security concern.
Similar Steps Taken By Other Countries
Last week, the Commission of the European Union also banned TikTok and restricted the EU Council staff from installing the app on the devices associated with the Commission. The Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union, Thierry Breton, also announced the ban on the Chinese app without disclosing any incidents of security breaches due to the app.
In December, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to restrict the use of the app on government owned devices by federal employees. In 2020, India banned TikTok along with several other Chinese apps amid security concerns under the IT rules of 2009 and Section 69A of the IT Act. Other countries, including Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, had also prohibited the Chinese app.