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Canadian regulators launch probe into TikTok’s data collection practices

Video streaming app TikTok has been under the spotlight by both Australian and American lawmakers for some time, and now a posse of Canadian regulators are launching an investigation into the platform’s data collection policies.

user icon David Hollingworth
Fri, 24 Feb 2023
Canadian regulators launch probe into TikTok’s data collection practices
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The probe is being conducted by four separate regulatory bodies, one federal and three from the provinces of Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) will investigate TikTok’s compliance with Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, while the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec will be looking at the company’s compliance with the Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector and the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology in Quebec.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta will both look into TikTok’s compliance with Canada’s Personal Information Protection Act.

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The investigation follows a number of lawsuits and reports in the media regarding TikTok’s use of the personal information of its users. In particular, the four regulators will be looking at how TikTok handles the privacy of its younger users.

“An important proportion of TikTok users are younger users,” the OPC said when announcing the probe. “Given the importance of protecting children’s privacy, the joint investigation will have a particular focus on TikTok’s privacy practices as they relate to younger users, including whether the company obtained valid and meaningful consent from these users for the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.”

“The investigation will also determine if the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users.”

TikTok — owned and operated by Chinese company ByteDance — was most recently targeted by US lawmakers in the wake of the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon.

“I think this spy balloon that so vividly went across America is a very high-profile reminder to Americans about what the Chinese communists have been up to,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton said on Fox News after the balloon was shot down over the ocean.

“I got to tell you viewers, if they’re worried about a spy balloon flying across the middle of America, let me tell them about the TikTok app that they may have on their phone and what it means for their security and their privacy and that of their children, as well.”

The short-form video platform was launched in 2016 and is accessed by over 600 million users each day, and has been downloaded over three billion times.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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