Canada has become the latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok on government-owned devices, with the Canadian Government calling on staff to remove the app from all government mobile devices by March 1st, due to concerns around potential data collection and misuse.
This follows similar calls from EU security officials last week, and the expanding, state-based bans on US government-operated devices.
With TikTok owned by China-based ByteDance, concerns linger that any information shared in the app could be routed to the CCP, under China’s strict cybersecurity rules. And while TikTok itself says that all Canadian user data is stored in Singapore and the US, there have already been examples of ByteDance employees accessing TikTok user data for research purposes.
This also comes as tensions between China and the west continue to oscillate.
Earlier this month, the US ordered a Chinese balloon to be shot down, amid concerns that it was being used to spy on the US and Canada, while rumors of China’s continued support for Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have also put it on a collision course with western governments.
Amid this, TikTok is caught in the middle. And while bans on government devices won’t necessarily expand to regular users, it does seem to build the case that TikTok itself is a risk, which may, eventually, see those actions broadened.
The US Government is still weighing a full ban of the app, while UK politicians are now also under pressure to take action. If one region moves, you can bet the others will follow suit, which could see TikTok effectively wiped out, very fast, if concerns continue to rise.
It’s hard to tell which way things will go. On balance, I would assume that a compromise can be met – with so much money on the line, it seems like, at the worst, TikTok would be sold off to a US-based company to ensure user data remains in America.
But it’s difficult to say, and things could change very quickly.
Either way, the expanding bans on government devices certainly don’t bode well for the app’s future, at least in its current state.