TikTok Faces An Investigation In Canada And Bans In The EU

TikTok faces a lot of headwinds in a lot places. And that list seems to be growing. Let’s start with Canada, where three provinces and Canada’s Privacy Commissioner are launching an investigation into TikTok:

The investigation was initiated in the wake of now settled, class action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, as well as numerous media reports related to TikTok’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

The four privacy regulators will examine whether the organization’s practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation and in particular, whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The investigation will also determine if the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users.

An important proportion of TikTok users are younger users. Given the importance of protecting children’s privacy, the joint investigation will have a particular focus on TikTok’s privacy practices as they relate to younger users, including whether the company obtained valid and meaningful consent from these users for the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.

That in itself is bad if you’re TikTok. But combine that with this news that TikTok has been banned from the devices of EU staff, it gets worse:

The European Union’s two biggest policy-making institutions have banned TikTok from staff phones for cybersecurity reasons, marking growing concerns about the Chinese short video-sharing app and its users’ data.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, is under scrutiny from governments and regulators because of concerns that China’s government could use its app to harvest users’ data or advance its interests.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton, who announced a ban by the European Commission, declined to say whether the Commission had been subject to any incidents involving TikTok.

An official also said on Thursday that staff at the EU Council, which brings together representatives of the member states to set policy priorities, would also have to un-install TikTok from their personal phones with access to EU Council services.

This is following this action by the US government to punt TikTok from government devices. Not to mention pressure in the US to ban TikTok outright.

Chris Vaughan, AVP – Technical Account Management, EMEA, Tanium:

   “These national bans are part of a wider issue about how much Chinese influence is deemed acceptable when it comes to national infrastructure and everyday life. We have seen concerns increase in the West in recent months, with the use of Chinese surveillance technology being restricted and Chinese computer chips being rejected. There have been numerous reports of Chinese efforts to sway politicians by way of lobbying and donations, and the public via social media and the spread of disinformation.”
   “Historically, Russia has been the most prominent user of information operations as we saw from its activities related to the 2016 US election and the Brexit referendum. China has been more focused on stealing intellectual property which it can then use to its own advantage. However, there are indications that the CCP will start to focus more on information and influence operations to achieve its strategic goals. Any instances of this need to be met head on by western political leaders who should take a strong stance against it at the government level, rather than leaving the responsibility to individual institutions like colleges.”

Matt Marsden, VP, Technical Account Management, Tanium had this to add:

   “We’ve recently seen steps taken by the government in the US, at both the state and federal level, to ban TikTok from state-owned devices, so it’s no surprise to see the EU do so as well. This is a good start, but a more comprehensive approach needs to be taken to protect our citizens from social media campaigns designed to further foreign political objectives.

   “Chinese intelligence tactics are focused on longer-term objectives and are fueled by the sustained collection of data. The immense collection of user data, to now include commerce and purchasing information, combined with biometrics and activity tracking, feeds detailed intelligence to be used in operations. This data can be leveraged to deliver targeted, timely, and often personalized psychological operations against individuals or groups of citizens. This has been observed during election cycles and politically charged events in recent years. “

This isn’t a good look if you’re TikTok because nobody trusts ByteDance who owns TikTok. And nothing they do right now seems to be able to stop bans and investigations from happening. In my mind, it’s only a matter of time before someone lowers the boom on them, the US for example, and then other countries will follow suit. Which will likely spell the end of TikTok.

2 Responses to “TikTok Faces An Investigation In Canada And Bans In The EU”

  1. […] falls into line with an EU government ban along with a US Government ban on TikTok. Not to mention an ongoing investigation by the Privacy […]

  2. […] is facing similar bans in other places. Not to mention that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner is investigating TikTok. One has to wonder at what point do TikTok, or their Chinese Communist Party masters respond […]

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