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In September, Ottawa discreetly requested national security evaluation of TikTok

The Chinese short-video streaming app TikTok underwent a national security review ordered by the federal government in September 2023, but details of the probe were not publicly disclosed.

“This is still an ongoing case. We can’t comment further due to the confidentiality provisions of the Investment Canada Act,” stated a spokesperson for Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to the media.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on March 13 that could potentially result in a ban on TikTok if it fails to separate from its China-based parent company, ByteDance, facing restrictions on U.S. app stores and hosting services.
When inquired about the possibility of a similar measure in Canada, Mr. Champagne’s office informed The Canadian Press that the federal cabinet initiated a national security review of TikTok Canada on September 6, 2023. The details of the review were not publicly accessible due to confidentiality under the Investment Canada Act.
TikTok would be subject to “enhanced scrutiny” under a new policy on foreign investments in the digital media sector introduced by the government earlier this month.

The national security review focused on a business expansion constituting the establishment of a new Canadian entity, withholding further specifics on the expansion under scrutiny.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refrained from commenting on the national security reviews during a press conference on March 14.

“I decided that no government phones or devices should have the TikTok app. It’s a matter of security and safety,” he stated. “We’re monitoring the ongoing debate in the United States.”
Following the ban on TikTok from government-issued mobile devices on February 28, 2023, provinces and territories have also imposed restrictions on the app.

The U.S. bill focuses on concerns that TikTok’s ownership structure poses a national security threat, being a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese technology firm ByteDance Ltd.

Lawmakers in the U.S. fear ByteDance could provide the Chinese regime access to user data, citing Chinese national security laws requiring cooperation with intelligence efforts.

TikTok senior executive David Lieber confirmed that the app’s parent company has access to user data while testifying before the House of Commons Ethics Committee. He did not directly address whether the Chinese Communist Party could access user data under Chinese laws.

Contributions by Jackson Richman and The Canadian Press.

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