Quebec follows federal lead, bans TikTok application on government cellphones

Quebec has banned the installation and use of the social media application TikTok on government cellphones as of Tuesday.

Cybersecurity and Digital Technology Minister Éric Caire announced the ban late Monday, several hours after the federal government announced a similar ban.

The ban is preventative, Caire said in a news release, adding that there's no evidence a foreign government has used the application to spy on Quebec government employees.

"The security of information and the protection of data held by government agencies remains an absolute priority for the Quebec government and that's why we're adopting this preventative measure," he said.

The use of social media applications by government employees on their own devices, outside of their work, remains a personal choice and individual users will have to evaluate the risks themselves, he said.

The federal government banned TikTok on its mobile devices several days after federal and provincial privacy commissioners launched an investigation into the social media platform.

The bans came after a review by the chief information officer of Canada, who determined that TikTok presents an unacceptable privacy and security risk.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that while the application has not been banned completely in Canada, the ban on its use by civil servants could encourage individuals and businesses to think about the security of their own data.

The United States and the European Union have also banned government employees from using TikTok on their work devices.

In an email, TikTok said it is open to meeting with government officials to discus its privacy protections in Canada.

"But singling out TikTok in this way does nothing to reach this common goal. All that it does is prevent officials from reaching the public on a platform enjoyed by millions of Canadians," the company said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

The Canadian Press