Canada's spy chief warns against using TikTok over data privacy concerns

Canada’s head of intelligence said that people should not use TikTok because the social media platform is an information channel to the Chinese government, according to a media report Friday.

“My answer as director is that there is a very clear strategy on the part of the government of China … to be able to acquire … personal information from anyone around the world,” Canadian Security Intelligence Security (CSIS) chief David Vigneault told CBC News.

“As an individual, I would say that I would absolutely not recommend someone have TikTok.”

His comments came during a CBC interview that will air Saturday. A CSIS annual report made public last week contained a stark signal about the Chinese government’s tenacles grasping information worldwide.

"Most people can say, 'Why is it a big deal for a teenager now to have their data [on TikTok]?' Well in five years, in 10 years, that teenager will be a young adult, will be engaged in different activities around the world," Vigneault said.

"If you are, for whatever reason, getting in the crosshairs of the (People's Republic of China), they will have a lot of information about you."

The spy chief said Chinese President Xi Jinping has enacted legislation that controls information and requires Chinese citizens no matter where they live globally to help Chinese intelligence gatherers.

"They're using big data analytics, they have amazing computer farms crunching the data, they are developing artificial intelligence ... based on using this data," Vigneault said. "The ultimate goal is always to protect the interests of the Chinese Communist Party. And so from that point of view, in many ways, this is a threat to the way we live." ​​​​​​​

He is not the only one to be concerned about TikTok. The US government recently gave TikTok’s parent company Byte Dance a year to sell the social media platform or face a ban.

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