The cities of Vaughan and Kitchener have become the latest in a long list of Canadian institutions to ban TikTok, saying they strive to uphold cybersecurity and protect the personal data of citizens and the cities.
In a statement to the Star Monday, the City of Vaughan said that, “effective immediately,” TikTok is no longer allowed to be installed or used on city workers’ corporate devices.
Meanwhile, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic took to Twitter on Monday morning to announce the app is being removed from all its corporate smartphones, out of an “abundance of caution.”
TikTok, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has come under increased scrutiny over recent weeks after Canada’s federal government barred the app from being installed or used on government devices. The move followed a review by the chief information officer of Canada, who determined the social media app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
Experts have pointed to TikTok’s “egregious” data harvesting policies and relationship with the Chinese government as to why bans are proliferating throughout the West. Meanwhile, TikTok has argued their data policy is in line with various other apps and that the bans were a product of rising tensions between Canada and China.
There has been no evidence so far that government information has been accessed by TikTok, according to Canada’s Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, who announced the initial federal ban.
Who’s banned from TikTok in Ontario?
On March 9, the province of Ontario announced a TikTok ban on all provincial government-issued devices — the last province to do so, after all other provinces and territories followed the federal example of barring the app from corporate devices. Ontario’s move has caused a cascade of local municipalities to enact similar policies.
Later that same day, the City of Ottawa announced a similar ban, adding that the app would also be barred from personal devices used to access city-managed applications along with work phones. Toronto followed one day later, banning and removing the app from roughly 350 city-issued devices.
Around the same time, the City of Hamilton said that while the city’s official TikTok account would remain active, the government has removed the app from about 40 city-owned devices. London, Ont., has also banned the app from city-owned devices.
Most recently on Monday, multiple Ontario municipalities announced similar bans for city-issued devices. These include: Kitchener, Lincoln and Vaughan.
Bans are spreading to more than just municipalities; on March 10, the Hamilton public school board announced they’ll remove TikTok from all board devices and make the app inaccessible from their school’s networks.
The announcement came hours after Ontario’s education minister said he was considering banning TikTok in all Ontario schools.
Certain police forces have also joined in. Niagara police asked employees to remove the app from all work-issued devices in early March, although their official account remains active to share public safety information and request help from the public.
Waterloo police has suspended its main account and have asked employees to delete TikTok from their work phones.
Immediately after the initial federal announcement, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh both announced they would take a hiatus from the app.
At the time, a spokesperson also confirmed all Liberal caucus members were asked to remove TikTok from all mobile devices, including personal phones, and to suspend their related accounts.
At the time of the initial federal ban, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he hoped the move would help Canadians “reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices in consequence.
“I’m always a fan of giving Canadians the information for them to make the right decisions for them.”