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Ban on Chinese WeChat and Russian Kaspersky Apps Implemented on Canadian Government Devices

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Canada has banned the Chinese social media and messaging application WeChat and the Russian anti-virus program Kaspersky from government-issued mobile devices, citing security risks.

“Effective October 30, 2023, the WeChat and Kaspersky suite of applications will be removed from government-issued mobile devices,” said Treasury Board President Anita Anand in a statement released Oct. 30. “Users of these devices will also be blocked from downloading the applications in the future.”

Ms. Anand said the decision was made to keep “government information and networks secure,” pointing to the analysis from the Chief Information Officer of Canada that WeChat and Kaspersky present “an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

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According to the statement, the data collection methods of WeChat and Kaspersky provide the applications on a mobile device with “considerable access to the device’s contents.”

“The decision to remove and block the WeChat and the Kaspersky applications was made to ensure that Government of Canada networks and data remain secure and protected and are in line with the approach of our international partners,” the statement reads.

Ms. Anand said the decision to ban WeChat and Kaspersky is precautionary, emphasizing there is no evidence that either application has compromised government information, despite the clear risks associated with their use.

The restrictions on WeChat came after Global Affair Canada (GAC) reported in August that it had identified “a coordinated network” of disinformation campaigns using the platform to target Conservative MP Michael Chong. Prior to the incident, a Globe and Mail article citing a top-secret assessment from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service indicated the Chinese regime had targeted the MP over a motion he sponsored

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