The B.C. government has announced it will ban TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, in a move that follows the federal government, as well as governments of the United States and European nations.
The overriding concern is that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance may share data with the People’s Republic of China government and hence the Chinese Communist Party.
Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare announced the ban on Twitter Monday.
“Due to recent concerns that have emerged regarding this particular platform, and out of an abundance of caution, we feel it is prudent to temporarily ban the use of the TikTok app on government-issued mobile devices as we continue to examine the risks associated with the app,” stated Beare, whose ministry oversees cybersecurity at the B.C. legislature and throughout government departments.
“Effective immediately, the TikTok app will not be permitted from government-issued mobile devices. Protection of government data and networks is a top priority for this Ministry. B.C. has an expert team dedicated to protecting systems from intrusions and security risks,” added Beare.
The B.C. legislature has been victimized by at least two cyberattacks since November 2020, but the government has provided the public with little information on them.
Quebec’s provincial government similarly announced a TikTok ban on government-issued mobile devices.
On Monday, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Mona Fortier announced the federal ban: “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.”
Meanwhile, the B.C. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner announced Feb. 23 a joint investigation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada of TikTok privacy protections.
“The investigation was initiated in the wake of now settled, class-action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, as well as numerous media reports related to TikTok’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information,” stated the commissioner.
Glacier Media has asked Beare to provide more details on the government ban, including the exact scope, such as whether it includes Crown corporations.
B.C. government workers and members of the legislative assembly are prohibited from conducting government business on personal phones, which remain free to have TikTok on them.