The Hamilton Spectator
Police, City of Hamilton remove TikTok from devices
City staff met with social media app’s staff in December 2022 before launching an account
The City of Hamilton and Hamilton Police Service are removing the popular social media app TikTok from their devices.
The moves come days after the federal government announced a TikTok ban on all government devices in the wake of cybersecurity concerns surrounding the app.
In a March 3 memo sent to city council, communications director Matthew Grant wrote that “out of an abundance of caution” and in consultation with staff, the city would be removing the app from all city devices and blocking the use of TikTok going forward.
The ban will remain in place pending the “result of the Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner probe alongside privacy regulators from provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta,” wrote Grant.
That probe comes after Treasury Board president Mona Fortier ruled that TikTok “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” and that on a mobile device, the app’s “data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone.”
Brett Caraway, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, told the Toronto Star the ban was almost inevitable given the app’s “egregious” stance on data harvesting, even compared to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said TikTok is not unique in collecting user data and that some other mobile apps collect more, though they didn’t specify which.
According to the memo, the city had only recently launched its TikTok account on Jan. 25 as an “opportunity to reach residents in a new, fun way.”
Grant wrote that prior to the launch of the account, city staff met with staff at TikTok in December and at that time, they “discussed related news from the United States and concerns about security.”
“City staff also led a Canada-wide environmental scan to determine use of TikTok by government and felt comfortable based on accounts that were active across Canada,” added Grant.
The city’s account has since been paused and made inactive, wrote Grant.
Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman told The Spectator in a statement that starting March 6, the app would be removed from all police devices.
Penman said the force launched its TikTok account in 2020 as a “way to connect with new audiences who were already engaged in using the platform.”
According to a memo, the city had only recently launched its TikTok account as an ‘opportunity to reach residents in a new, fun way’