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  • Kyle Chua

Canada Bans TikTok From Official Devices, Australia Awaiting Advice From Security Agencies

More governments are following in the footsteps of the U.S. in banning TikTok from official devices.

Credit: Reuters

Canada is the latest to do, announcing on Monday, 27 February that the Chinese-owned, short-form video app poses an "unacceptable" level of risk to national privacy and security. The ban covers all government-issued devices, and also prohibits federal employees from downloading the app again in the future, according to Canada's Treasury Board, the Cabinet committee responsible for public administration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was carefully exploring ways at protecting Canadians online. "This may be a first step, it may be the only step we need to take," he said about the ban.

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said TikTok can gain access to potentially sensitive contents on devices through its data collection methods. "While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised," she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Credit: Reuters

TikTok expressed disappointment over the ban in a statement, saying that it was put in place "without citing any specific security concern or contacting us with questions".

The move comes just a week after the European Commission imposed a similar ban against the app. Commission staff reportedly have until 15 March to delete the app from both work and personal devices that use Commission apps and services.

The U.S. and European Commission have also imposed bans against TikTok, citing national security concerns and the app's alleged ties to the Chinese government. The ban – at least for the U.S. – is somewhat ironic as it seemingly violates the First Amendment rights of Americans who use TikTok to "communicate, gather information and express themselves daily," according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In banning the app, the U.S. and other Western countries might be trying to instil fear in the use of TikTok, making users believe that it's being used for more sinister reasons.

There were also several U.S. states that took it a step further by also banning the use of other Chinese apps. The state of Georgia and New Hampshire, for example, banned the messaging app WeChat from all government devices, as Fortune reports.

India also banned TikTok from being used not only on government devices but for all devices in the country in 2020. The social media app was among the hundreds of Chinese apps the country banned amid geopolitical friction between the two technological superpowers.

Uzbekistan, on the other hand, restricted access to TikTok for social reasons, with kids supposedly copying the stunts or pranks they see on the app.

Australia, meanwhile, is not making any moves until it gets advice from its security agencies.

"We'll take the advice of our national security agencies," Treasurer Jim Chalmers told ABC television. "That hasn't been the advice to date."

The bans underscore the backlash against TikTok, owned by Beijing-based internet giant ByteDance Ltd, over fears of the app being weaponised to spread misinformation and user data being accessed by the Chinese government.

  • Canada is the latest to ban TikTok from official devices, following in the footsteps of the U.S. and the European Commission.

  • Canada's Treasury Board said the short-form video app poses an "unacceptable" level of risk to national privacy and security.

  • Australia, meanwhile, is not making any moves until it gets advice from its security agencies.

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