Canada’s digital spy company watching TikTok ‘very rigorously,’ Trudeau says

Canada’s electronic spy agency is watching out for security threats from the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

Responding to questions from reporters in a pre-cabinet scrum on Parliament Hill, Trudeau said the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s foreign signals intelligence agency, is keeping an eye on TikTok as Republican lawmakers move to ban the app in the US

“I think people are concerned about TikTok. I think people are obviously watching very carefully,” he said. “The … CSE is one of the best cyber security agencies in the world and they’re watching very carefully.”

WATCH | CSE watching social media ‘carefully’ for foreign threats, Trudeau says

Canada watches social media ‘carefully’ for foreign threats, Trudeau says

As US lawmakers voice national security concerns over TikTok, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government continues to monitor social media channels to protect Canadians.

US moves to ban TikTok

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday announced bipartisan legislation to ban the app, which reaches more than one billion users worldwide.

The legislation responds to growing concerns in the US that TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. could use the app to spy on or censure Americans.

Rubio’s bill would block all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China and Russia, the senator’s office said in a news release.

The bill would be an expansion of existing American laws restricting access to TikTok. The US Senate unanimously approved a bill in August 2020 banning federal employees from using the app on government-issued devices.

ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NDP ethics critic Matthew Green said in an email to CBC the party believes Canada has fallen behind its European counterparts on data protection. He did not call for a ban on TikTok for federal employees’ devices.

“While New Democrats don’t think a ban on TikTok should be dismissed outright, the government needs to take the first steps to introduce better regulation and work side by side with our allies on data protection,” Green said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has a large following on TikTok. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has nearly 900 thousand followers on TikTok and routinely uses the platform.

Trudeau also responded to a question about the risk of Chinese infiltration of Canadian government accounts on Twitter.

He said the government is “watching what the Americans are doing” regarding the US-based social media giant, which has been under intense scrutiny since billionaire Elon Musk completed his purchase of the company in October.

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