TikTok Banned on Police Service Devices Following Federal Government
The cities and police services across Ontario are following in the footsteps of the federal government and have banned TikTok on work and government-owned devices. Privacy watchdogs are monitoring the app for threats to security while some services consider these bans.
The federal government banned TikTok from government-owned devices earlier this week due to an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security. Now, a spokesperson for Hamilton shared that the city still has its official TikTok account, but the application was removed from about 40 city-owned devices. Matthew Grant, the spokesperson for Hamilton said, “The official account is not active and that account cannot be accessed by any city device … pending the investigation by the federal privacy office along with provincial privacy officers”.
A spokesperson for Ontario’s provincial government also stated that it is reviewing whether to ban the app. In comparison, Alberta, Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and other provinces have already banned the app.
Toronto, on the other hand, said that it has not yet made the decision of restricting the app on city-issued mobile devices. The city is actively monitoring for cybersecurity risks. Brett Caraway, a professor of communication, culture, information, and technology at the University of Toronto said that once the federal government bans the app, it’s not surprising that other provinces follow suit. “If you’re at the provincial level or the municipal level, and you haven’t followed suit, then the accusation can be raised that somehow you’re soft on security or soft on privacy issues. So once the federal ban was in place, I expected to see provinces and municipalities across Canada institute similar bans,” he said.
Till now, the City of London has banned TikTok on city-owned devices, Niagara police asked its employees to remove TikTok from all service-issued devices, and Waterloo police has asked all its members to delete the app from their phones.
Caraway also mentioned the flip side of this decision. He said, “Municipal governments and law enforcement agencies at the local level use TikTok as a major outreach tool to get out information about campaigns, public events or issues of concern to local audiences.” He added that it would become more difficult to reach out to younger audiences if TikTok is given up.
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