The Hamilton Spectator
Liberals, Conservatives and NDP step back from TikTok accounts
App ban affects government devices
Canadian politicians have started deactivating their TikTok accounts after the federal government and House of Commons both decided to ban the app from their devices.
The video-focused social media platform has come under increased scrutiny in Canada and elsewhere because the Chinese government has a stake in its owner, ByteDance, and Chinese laws allow the country to demand access to user data.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has already suspended his use of the TikTok video app and a spokesperson says all members of caucus will do the same.
“We will fully comply with the directive to remove TikTok from government devices and will work to see that this ban is extended to include parliamentary devices,” spokesperson Sebastian Skamski said in a written statement.
Treasury Board president Mona Fortier’s office says all Liberal MPs have been asked to suspend their TikTok accounts and remove the app from both their work and personal devices.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he planned to suspend his account by the end of Tuesday, but did not say whether all of his MPs would follow suit. “As (for) the rest of caucus, we’ll be complying with the House of Commons rules and that’s something that all New Democrats will be doing,” Singh said at a news conference Tuesday.
The Bloc Québécois also announced its MPs and staff will delete the app from their work devices. The Bloc said it has deleted the party’s TikTok account, as well.
The House of Commons rules mean the app must be removed from House-provided devices by Friday, but they do not extend to banning the use of the app on personal devices.
Singh is one of the most-tracked Canadian politicians with nearly 880,000 followers and 9.5 million likes on his videos. His use of TikTok grabbed attention and headlines in the 2021 federal election.
While a postelection debrief report said social media helped the NDP build support, especially with younger voters, it also pointed out there was a suggestion Singh’s popularity on TikTok “makes him appear ‘less serious.’ ”
Singh said Tuesday he is not worried about losing a tool that can help connect with a younger audience. “I have no concern at all about taking a step back from a social media platform when there are serious concerns around security, data and privacy, particularly not just for myself but the people that interact with me,” he said.
Fortier announced Monday that Canada would ban TikTok from all government-issued devices, after similar moves in the United States and European Union.
The decision followed a review by the chief information officer of Canada, who determined TikTok posed an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.
Sara Grimes, director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto, said the move suggests the federal government has received new information about the platform’s data collection that drove them to take immediate action.