Popular app is blocked from government phones for security reasons
Matthew Hillier, Staff Writer
Recently, the government of Canada announced that the popular social media and content-sharing app TikTok will be removed and banned from federal government workers’ phones.
This decision was made by the Chief Information Officer of Canada Catherine Luelo following a review of possible security concerns stemming from employees’ use of the app.
“Effective Feb. 28, 2023, the TikTok application will be removed from government-issued mobile devices. Users of these devices will also be blocked from downloading the application in the future.”
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 decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being 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. On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone.”
According to CBC, among these concerns was the app’s use of private data collection from users. However, they have stated that to date, no government information has been compromised by the app itself.
In addition to the apps being banned from phones, four Canadian privacy regulators are undertaking a joint probe of TikTok’s privacy policies. The goal of this probe is to decide how the app’s policies affect the privacy of younger users and how this data collection affects these users.
CBC stated that this probe “will examine whether [TikTok] practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation and in particular, whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.”
The City of Calgary has also banned the app from workers’ phones and tablets. In an email sent by the IT department of the City of Calgary, they said that “Removing TikTok will increase the protection, security and privacy of the city’s technology environment as well as any personal information [employees] may have stored on [their] city iPhones and iPads.”
The department states that TikTok’s methods of collecting data and user monitoring makes those who have downloaded the app vulnerable to surveillance.
In addition to the move from the federal government to ban the application, CTV News reports that the city of Ottawa is also banning TikTok from all corporate phones that access city-managed phone applications.
It has also banned the app from all municipal government-issued devices. The city of Ottawa has cited the recent federal ban and security issues as the reason for these bans.
Furthermore, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and many more are also banning the application from government workers’ phones.
These concerns over privacy are tied to the Beijing-based developer ByteDance Ltd. Many are worried that this company will harvest data from western users for The People’s Republic of China.
These recent concerns have fueled the fire of data privacy concerns for these apps’ users and some are beginning to question the motives behind large data collection apps and algorithm-based content, despite claims from these apps stating otherwise.