Canadian intelligence agency advises against TikTok over 'risky' data practices

TikTok logos in a pattern on a monitor
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Canada's intelligence director, David Vigneault, delivered a stern warning in a CBC interview against the usage of TikTok.
  • Vigneault stated that using the app posed a "risk" to adult and teenage data as China reportedly uses "big data analytics" and computer farms to process information.
  • The U.S. government has passed a bill that forces TikTok owner ByteDance to sell or face a ban, and that prompted a lawsuit over "unconstitutional" practices.

As the U.S. pushes for TikTok to either sell or face a ban, Canada's intelligence agency sends a stern warning to all users.

According to an interview with CBC, CSIS director David Vigneault stated, "as an individual, I would say that I would absolutely not recommend someone have TikTok." Vigneault added that China has "a very clear" strategy to use TikTok to obtain data "from anyone around the world."

During Vigneault's appearance on the CBC's show, The House, he stated that TikTok is "risky" for adults and teenagers in Canada. The reason is reportedly China's usage of "big data analytics" and computer farms for the processing and crunching of data. This could be continuously held as teens become young adults and become involved in other things.

He adds that China could be using user data captured in Canada and other places worldwide to create artificial intelligence.

The CSIS director isn't the only one to have made comments about TikTok as CBC highlights Sami Khoury's interview last year. Khoury, head of the Communications Security Establishment's Canadian Centre for Cyber Security questioned "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?"

The issue was aggregation, as there were concerns over China's ability to compare two users' contact lists and see where the lines overlap.'

In 2023, the Canadian government banned TikTok from all federal government devices, citing security reasons. The decision was backed by a review conducted by the Chief Information Officer, which found that TikTok's data collection methods could lead to cyber-attacks.

It's unclear which way Canada will lean regarding TikTok, though concerns continue to mount.

TikTok on OnePlus 9 with kids tech

(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

In the U.S., a bill swiftly passed through the House and the Senate to President Joe Biden about a potential TikTok ban in the country. The U.S. government is giving its parent company ByteDance a choice: divest the app or app stores nationwide will remove TikTok.

The platform's CEO Shou Chew took to TikTok to state "we aren't going anywhere."

While security is the headliner, Chew stood firm in saying that TikTok has "built safeguards that no other peer company has made." TikTok's CEO added that the app has reached over 170 million users nationwide, and 7 million business owners rely on the service for their livelihood.

Earlier in May, TikTok went on the offensive with a lawsuit against the United States government, stating the recently proposed ban is "unconstitutional." Through its petition, TikTok claimed the government unfairly targeted it through the bill. Moreover, the company claims there is no proof that the Chinese government has misused TikTok to gather user data and over national security-related risks.

TikTok has less than a year to sell or face a ban in the U.S. Its future is uncertain at the moment as ByteDance would rather ditch the U.S. altogether instead of selling. The company attempted to do so during the Trump Administration, but talks fell through with various companies like Walmart, Microsoft, and Oracle.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.

  • Mooncatt
    It would be better if the Intelligence Agency advised against TT due to a lack of intelligence to be found on the app.