Canada’s top cybersecurity chief has warned Canadians to exercise caution when using apps that could leave their data in the “wrong hands.” The warning comes amid Chinese-owned social media app TikTok facing data-harvesting claims from across the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated last month that the Canadian electronic spy agency is keeping an eye out for security threats from Tik Tok. In neighbouring US, Republican Senators moved to ban TikTok earlier this month. Tik To, which has reportedly over a billion users worldwide is widely popular in both US and Canada. “You have to ask yourself the question, do they need to access that information? Why does an application need to access all of my contact lists? Why does it need to access my calendar, my email, my phone records, my [texts]?” Sami Khoury, head of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Canadian Centre for Cyber Security told CBC News.
Khoury said that Canadians should be aware of what they’re agreeing to when they download an application. They should ask whether it enables access to their personal data, he added.
“You layer on top of that the risk of connecting my 200 [contacts] with your 200 and then you have an aggregate … of information. In some cases, it lands in places that don’t live by the same principles of rule of law [and] respect for human rights,” he was quoted as saying by CBC News.
Trudeau had last month said the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s foreign signals intelligence agency, was watching out for security threats from TikTok.
“I think people are concerned about TikTok. I think people are obviously watching very carefully,” he said. “The … CSE is one of the best cybersecurity agencies in the world and they’re watching very carefully.”
TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is based in China, has been accused of aggressive data harvesting from around the world. In neighbouring United States, federal employees were banned from using the app on government-issued devices over national security concerns.
Prior to that, the Chinese app was banned from electronic devices managed by the US House of Representatives, according to an internal notice sent to House staff.
The move came after dozens of US states in recent months implemented their own prohibitions against TikTok on government devices, CNN reported.