GN to ‘restrict’ use of TikTok on its network and devices

The Government of Nunavut intends to “restrict” the use of TikTok on its network and government-issued devices.

The move comes a week after the federal government announced a full ban of the video streaming app on devices issued to government employees. Provinces such as Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have followed suit.

“In light of the recent decision by the federal government to ban TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, the GN has not received the full assessment of the potential security risks associated with this application, but it has decided to restrict TikTok from all GN devices and network,” said Hala Duale, a spokesperson for the Department of Community and Government Services.

“This measure is in line with the GN’s security standards and best practices.”

Duale didn’t explain the difference between restricting and banning the app. Nor did she say how many employees the GN’s decision would affect, or what the timeline of implementing the restriction would be.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been the subject of wide criticism for how it handles users’ personal data.

Treasury Board president Mona Fortier announced the federal government ban of TikTok on devices would take effect Feb. 28. That came after several other jurisdictions, including the United States federal government, implemented similar bans of the app.

“The decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being taken as a precaution, particularly given concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected from mobile devices, and is in line with the approach of our international partners,” Fortier said in Feb. 27 news release.

“For the broader public, the decision to use a social media application or platform is a personal choice. However, the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) guidance strongly recommends that Canadians understand the risks and make an informed choice on their own before deciding what tools to use.”

Cybersecurity has been an issue for the GN in the past.

In 2019, a ransomware attack crippled the entire government network. The recovery from the attack took several months and cost $7.29 million.

Duale said the GN maintains security standards that all software applications must meet in order to be installed or hosted on its system.

“The Government of Nunavut is committed to ensuring the security and integrity of its core network and devices,” she said.

“These standards are constantly being reviewed and updated to reflect the evolving cyber-threat landscape.”

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News