Liberal MLAs clocking out of TikTok
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Manitoba Liberal MLAs have joined federal counterparts in deleting the TikTok app from their electronic devices.
“(Dougald Lamont, Jon Gerrard and Cindy Lamoureux) have removed TikTok from their phones due to security concerns,” a spokesman for the Manitoba Liberal Party said Tuesday.
They join federal MPs from the Liberal and Conservative parties, as well as NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who began deactivating the Chinese company-owned social media video app after the federal government and the House of Commons decided to ban it from their devices.
A spokeswoman for Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government wouldn’t say, at this time, what Tory MLAs might do.
A spokeswoman for the NDP caucus said: “The Manitoba NDP is reviewing guidance from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security on best practices with TikTok.”
A spokeswoman for the provincial civil service said: “Manitoba is currently in discussions with the government of Canada and assessing whether similar policies should be in place here.”
The app removals come after the Chief Information Officer of Canada made the decision Monday that TikTok’s data collection methods could allow for cyberattacks.
The federal government told civil servants in an email the app would be deleted and blocked on all government-issued mobile devices Feb. 28.
The TikTok app, which allows the sharing of short (three- to 10-minute) videos, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd.
“The government will continue to monitor the situation and will work with partners to keep the information on our systems and networks secure,” an email to Global Affairs employees said.
Mona Fortier, president of the federal Treasury Board, said the chief information officer found the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security. On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone.”
Fortier’s office said all Liberal MPs have been asked to remove the app from both their work and personal devices.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has shut down his account; a party spokesman said all Tory MPs will follow suit.
Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s master of public policy in digital society program and an adjunct political science professor, said while it may be different for government, she doesn’t think members of the general public have received enough information to make the decision to turn off the app themselves.
Noting the United States and European Union had already made the decision to drop the app from government-issued devices, Bednar said: “I think it would have been harder for them to rationalize not following the U.S. and the EU, but is there new information? Or should we have investigated the app earlier in 2019, when it came here?”
Bednar said she is surprised the TikTok app was even available on government-issued mobile devices.
“Entertainment apps shouldn’t be on official government phones,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Scott Gillingham said the City of Winnipeg currently doesn’t have a policy related to TikTok in particular.
“I’m open to a discussion on that, but we don’t have any policy that is set in place right now,” Gillingham said.
“I think, in general, we here in government should always be aware of any potential security threats when it comes to our data and information. This is something I’m certainly looking forward to talking to my council colleagues about.”
— with files from Carol Sanders
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 9:03 AM CST: Adds "with files from Carol Sanders"