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Territories join Ottawa, most provinces in banning TikTok on government devices

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Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the latest jurisdictions in Canada to announce they are banning TikTok on government-issued devices pending a federal threat assessment.

The N.W.T. says its ban took effect Friday, following the lead of the federal government and several provinces.

Nunavut says access to the video-sharing platform was blocked on all of its networks as of Tuesday.

Ottawa announced last week it was banning TikTok from government-owned devices following a review of the social media app by Canada's chief information officer.

Catherine Luelo determined it posed an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.

Nine provinces have since followed suit, while Ontario says it is considering a ban.

Yukon's minister of Highways and Public Works told the assembly that employees would be notified of its ban on March 2.

Federal and provincial privacy watchdogs recently announced a joint investigation into whether TikTok complies with Canadian privacy legislation.

The Nunavut government says its ban is an interim measure until its security team reviews the full assessment by the federal government. It says it manages a small amount of mobile phones.

The N.W.T. government says it decided to ban TikTok based on several risk factors, chiefly the application's data collection methods, which "can provide almost complete access" to the contents of devices it has been downloaded on, making them more vulnerable to surveillance.

Nils Clarke, Yukon's Minister of Highways and Public Works, said his department has the ability to delete specific apps from government-owned cellphones and prevent them from being downloaded. The territorial government said before issuing its ban, no one in its cabinet office had TikTok on their government-issued devices.

The Chinese government has a stake in TikTok's owner, ByteDance, and Chinese laws allow the country to demand access to user data.

The company that owns TikTok maintains that it does not share data with China's government and its data is not held in that country.

Federal, provincial and territorial officials have said there is no evidence that government data has been compromised by using TikTok.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Correction

This is a corrected story. A previous version said Yukon was exploring a ban.

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