On Thursday, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced that a collaborative federal and provincial investigation into the popular short-video app TikTok will be initiated to address concerns regarding the platform’s acquisition, utilization, and exposure of personal information. This move comes amidst the app’s Chinese ownership.
In a statement, the commissioner’s office confirmed that the federal privacy regulator and provincial counterparts in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta will scrutinize whether TikTok’s operations align with Canadian privacy laws. This investigation will be conducted jointly.
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According to the statement, the investigation will concentrate on assessing whether TikTok is obtaining genuine and significant consent for the collection, utilization, and revelation of personal data.
TikTok’s spokesperson stated that safeguarding the privacy and safety of their users has always been a crucial priority for the company. The spokesperson also mentioned that the investigation is a chance for them to clarify and address any misconceptions regarding how TikTok safeguards the privacy of Canadians.
Canada has joined a growing number of governments and regulators worldwide that are closely examining TikTok due to apprehensions that the Chinese-owned app may be utilized to gather users’ data or promote Chinese interests. ByteDance Ltd. is the Chinese company that owns TikTok.
The two primary policymaking institutions of the European Union have prohibited the use of TikTok on staff phones. Meanwhile, in December, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that forbids federal employees from utilizing the app on government-owned devices.
The investigation is likely to exacerbate the already strained Sino-Canadian relations, which have been tense for several reasons. These include Ottawa’s recent allegations that China has attempted to interfere in Canadian elections and has been conducting air and sea surveillance operations.
Beijing has dismissed those accusations and has urged Ottawa to cease making baseless assumptions and defaming China.