Manitoba bans TikTok on government devices

Manitoba is following the lead of the federal government and other provinces by banning TikTok on all government-issued mobile devices.

The mobile application cannot be accessed as of March 6, government services minister James Teitsma announced on Thursday.

He described the decision as a precautionary measure. 

“After careful review, we have determined the level of security and privacy risk with the use of TikTok on mobile devices is unacceptable,” Teitsma said in a media release. “Protecting the privacy and security of government information is a priority, so TikTok will be removed from all mobile devices issued by the Manitoba government.”

The province states it has no evidence the app has compromised government information. 

TikTok is a popular app that 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.

‘Unacceptable level of risk’

Last week, Canada’s federal privacy regulator, along with three provincial counterparts, launched a joint probe of the platform’s collection, use and disclosure of users’ personal information.

Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board, said in a statement the chief information officer determined the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

Since then, the federal government, as well as governments in Saskatchewan, Quebec, B.C. and Nova Scotia, among others, have banned TikTok from the mobile devices it gives to employees. 

In Manitoba, Teitsma said the provincial government would also review all other social media applications to ensure they are a safe and secure platform.

The province will work with Crown corporations and other public-sector organizations to evaluate whether a TikTok ban is worth implementing. 

Gautam Srivastava, a Brandon University associate professor in computer science, said Canadian governments are worried of Chinese influence over their data and what could happen next.

“Their technology is so advanced that I think the government’s almost scared of what they may be able to do with the information that they’re gathering,” he said.

“I think that’s what’s causing more of a threat than the actual threat that may actually occur.”