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Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador Ban TikTok on Government-Issued Devices

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Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have banned TikTok on government-issued mobile devices, joining a growing list of jurisdictions that have imposed restrictions on the Chinese-owned social media network.

The video-sharing platform has come under increased scrutiny in Canada and elsewhere because the Chinese government has a stake in its owner, ByteDance, and Chinese laws allow the state to demand access to user data.

Quebec on Tuesday imposed a TikTok ban on government devices, following a similar edict from Ottawa the day prior.

The United States announced Monday that all government agencies have 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems, and several other countries have since followed suit, including India, Taiwan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, as well as the European Union.

Newfoundland and Labrador said Wednesday that its decision arises from several concerns, including TikTok’s data collection methods, which provide the app “almost complete access” to the contents of the phone on which it is used.

The provincial government in Nova Scotia echoed that concern, saying the app’s data collection methods make users “vulnerable to surveillance.”

Service Nova Scotia Minister Colton LeBlanc said there is no need for the TikTok app to be on government-issued devices.

“There are also concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected,” LeBlanc said. “There is no evidence at this time that foreign actors have compromised government information.”

The federal ban in Canada has prompted some academics to suggest that companies should think twice about their own data privacy policies and perhaps consider blocking the app.

University of Ottawa law professor Vivek Krishnamurthy says companies should do a risk assessment on how exposed they might be to TikTok.

Brett Caraway, a professor of media economics at the University of Toronto, says companies need to be wary of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app if their employees deal with intellectual property, patents and trade secrets.

The Chinese company that owns TikTok has long maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese government and that its data is not held in China. It has also disputed accusations that it collects more user data compared to other social media companies.

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