Canadian officials warn citizens to be cautious amid Chinese company-owned Tiktok’s data foraging

Canada-TikTok. Representational image by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Ottawa: At a time when popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok faces claims that it has spied on its users, Canadian citizens have been warned by Canadian officials to be wary of apps that could leave their data in the “wrong hands”.

Users need to be aware of what they’re agreeing to when they download an app, said Sami Khoury, head of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, and added that they should ask whether it enables access to their personal data.

“You have to ask yourself the question, do they need to access that information? Why does an application need to access all of my contact list? Why does it need to access my calendar, my email, my phone records, my [texts]?” he told CBC News.

“You layer on top of that the risk of connecting my 200 [contacts] with your 200 and then you have an aggregate … of information. In some cases, it lands in places that don’t live by the same principles of rule of law [and] respect for human rights.”

Tiktok’s parent company is China’s ByteDance.

In a statement, a spokesperson for TikTok insisted that the Chinese Communist Party has no control over ByteDance, and that it has never provided access of Canadian users’ data to the Chinese government and that it would not do so if asked.

Canadians with commercially sensitive information on their devices said the CSE should be especially cautious when granting access to their devices.

“Some platforms are responsible platforms where you potentially don’t have to worry about the data falling into the hands of a nation-state. But other platforms are too close to that line,” Khoury told CBC News.