Canada keeping close eye on TikTok after national security concerns raised

By Cormac Mac Sweeney

The federal government says it is monitoring the situation around TikTok after national security concerns were raised over the popular social media app.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. In the U.S. the app has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access its user data like browsing history and location. The U.S. Senate recently approved a bill barring federal employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices and the U.S. armed forces have prohibited the app on military devices.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they are carefully watching social media channels and Canada’s digital spy agency – the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) – is keeping an eye on things, along with our allies.

“We’re watching what the Americans are doing and we’re going to continue to make sure that Canadians are safe,” he said while on his way into the final cabinet meeting of the year. “The Communications Security Establishment is one of the best cybersecurity agencies in the world and they are watching very carefully.”

Innovation Minister François-Phillipe Champagne echoed the Prime Minister’s remarks, saying Canada needs to remain vigilant.

Conservative MP Michael Chong has called for an investigation into the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app, claiming they have the ability to manipulate algorithms for foreign influence, and given the reach of such a popular site that could be a national security threat.

TikTok has said the concerns are largely fuelled by misinformation and they are happy to meet with anyone to discuss the company’s practices.

Calls to ban TikTok have have also come from countries such as Australia and Taiwan while India blocked it in 2020 over a military dispute.

In 2020, then-U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to block new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked the apps’ use in the United States but lost a series of court battles over the measure.

Files from The Associated Press were used in this report.

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