Ontario bans TikTok on government devices



The Ontario government is banning the social media platform TikTok from all provincial government-issued devices effective immediately, the Treasury Board president said on Thursday.

Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria said in a statement that all government advertising campaigns will be removed from TikTok as part of the ban. As well, he said all Ontario Progressive Conservative party caucus members will be required to remove the application from all personal cell phones.

“The decision to block the TikTok application from government-issued and personal devices is a proactive and precautionary approach to ensuring the protection of government data and networks,” he said in the statement.

“While no data breaches have occurred, our government takes all allegations and concerns about data integrity incredibly seriously.”

He said the government encourages Ontario residents to review the terms and conditions of any application they use to ensure they are making an informed decision about how those platforms use information.

Ontario last province to impose ban

The move follows a similar ban announced by the federal government in late February. At the time, the government said security concerns were behind the move.

All provinces have since followed suit, with Ontario the last to announce its decision.

In a Feb. 27 email sent to Global Affairs employees in February, department officials attributed the decision to the chief information officer of Canada, saying it followed a review.

The review found that TikTok’s data collection methods could lead to cyber attacks, the email said.

Federal, Québec, British Columbia and Alberta privacy authorities say they are investigating short-form video streaming application TikTok. The TikTok logo is seen on a cell phone on Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michael Dwyer
All provinces have now banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

TikTok specializes in the sharing of short videos. Beijing-based internet technology company ByteDance owns the platform; its ownership has raised concerns at a time of heightened tensions between China and the West.

The Chinese government has a stake in ByteDance and Chinese laws allow the country to demand access to user data.

ByteDance maintains that it does not share TikTok data with China’s government and its data is not held in that country.

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