Canada reviewing a TikTok expansion plan for national security risks

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 11:34 AM

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada in September ordered a national security review of a proposal by TikTok to expand the short-video app’s business in the country, the industry ministry said on Thursday.

The potential outcome of the review, which could range from Canada asking TikTok to take mitigation measures to even blocking the expansion, could add to the company’s growing woes.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a bill to force TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance to divest the U.S. assets of the app or face a ban. The measure is the latest in a series of moves in Washington to respond to U.S. national security concerns about China, from connected vehicles to advanced artificial intelligence chips to cranes at U.S. ports.

Canada last year banned TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.

Under Canadian law, the government can assess potential risks to Canada’s national security from foreign investments such as the TikTok proposal. The law prevents the government from revealing the details of such investments.

The Canadian review is not expected to result in an outright ban like the one proposed in the United States.

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that “We continue to cooperate with the government’s review of TikTok’s investment in Canada, and remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of the platform for the millions of Canadian creators, artists and small businesses who rely on TikTok to earn a living, find community and create jobs.”

“Our government is closely following developments related to the bill being proposed by US lawmakers,” a spokesperson for Canada’s industry minister said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Chris Reese)