TikTok under the microscope of Canadian intelligence Meet your digital brand partner: Oussama Ben Rejab

TikTok under the microscope of Canadian intelligence

As the United States considers banning TikTok, the popular social network has been the subject of an internal review by the Government of Canada over the threat to national security since September.

• Read also: TikTok threatened in the United States: Beijing denounces “thug methods”

• Read also: Banning TikTok in the United States would be “dramatic” for Quebec users, according to an expert

• Read also: United States: House of Representatives adopts text threatening TikTok with ban

This review, launched under the Investment Canada Act after months of preparation, should ultimately result in a report which will be submitted to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne.

In an email, a spokesperson for the minister explains that the security and intelligence services are involved in this type of examination, which can lead to the “attack” or even the “blocking” of a transaction in Canada.

This review is aimed specifically at ByteDance, TikTok's parent company based in China. The review alone could not lead directly to the banning of the application in Canada, it is noted.

Already banned for civil servants

Asked about this on Thursday, Justin Trudeau recalled that Ottawa had already banned the popular mobile application from civil servants' devices for “security” reasons a year ago. Quebec made the same decision.

In the process, political parties, their leaders and the vast majority of deputies also deleted their TikTok profiles.

“We are of course observing the debate taking place in the United States and I cannot comment on the reviews relating to national security,” continued Mr. Trudeau.

Elected officials in the United States House of Representatives have adopted a text proposing to ban TikTok. But the file now returns to the Senate, which will have to approve the text, without taking into account possible proceedings against Washington.

An extremely popular social network

While Americans' concerns about TikTok are linked to national security concerns about the transfer of private data to China, the fact remains that the app has gained immense and ever-growing popularity.

A November survey from the Pew Research Center shows that in three years, the proportion of Americans who say they get their news primarily from TikTok has tripled, reaching 14% in 2023. Even more surprising: among people aged 18 to 29, 32% of them now get their news there.

The phenomenon is global and is also changing the morals of Quebecers. A communications specialist declares Newspaper On Wednesday, the initiative of American elected officials would also have “dramatic” consequences for “content creators” in Quebec.

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