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TikTok on Work Phones

February 28, 2023 - Ron Kruzeniski, Information and Privacy Commissioner

The federal privacy commissioner and the commissioners of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have initiated a joint investigation of TikTok Announcement: Commissioners launch joint investigation into TikTok – Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. They are investigating concerns about privacy and consent.

The United States and the European Union have taken steps to ban the TikTok app.

On February 27th the federal government indicated it was banning the TikTok app from being on public servants’ office phones.

The province of Alberta has announced a ban of TikTok on its devices and the City of Calgary has followed suit. The province of Quebec has also announced a ban of TikTok on government devices. Nova Scotia has banned TikTok on government mobile devices and Saskatchewan in a media advisory has banned TikTok on work devices and the City of Regina has done the same. Newfoundland and Labrador in a press release has banned TikTok on all government-managed mobile devices. The province of British Columbia has announced a ban of TikTok on its government mobile devices.

I have asked staff in my office to remove TikTok from their work phones. I expect other organizations will take the same steps.

Since an investigation is taking place, it is just a prudent thing to do (i.e., remove TikTok from work phones).

The reasons for doing so at the moment are limited, but the reason of security concerns should be sufficient to cause us to pause. If the joint investigation concludes there are no concerns, then organizations can decide whether to allow the TikTok app to be on work phones.

With TikTok or any app, an organization should determine whether having a particular app on employer owned mobile devices serve as a business purpose.

As to personally owned devices, each of us will have to make personal decisions as to whether to have TikTok on our phones. Each should learn more about the effects of having TikTok on your device.

I encourage all to stay tuned and listen to security professionals’ conclusions as to whether TikTok is a security risk. The statement by Minister Fortier announcing a ban on the use of TikTok on government mobile devices can be viewed here.

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