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Canada: the CSE sounds the alarm over TikTok’s collection of data

This warning from Sami Khoury, the head of the Communications Security Establishment, comes in the midst of accusations of Chinese spying on the social network

Cyber risks - February 10, 2023

In an interview with CBC News, Sami Khoury, director of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE, the Canadian equivalent of France’s Anssi), calls on users to think twice about the permissions that applications request.

Why does an application need to access all of my contact list? Why does it need access to my calendar, my email, my phone records, my texts ?” he wonders.

In some cases, your data lands in places that don’t live by the same principles of rule of law [and] respect for human rights as here. In the case of responsible platforms you potentially don’t have to worry about the data falling into the hands of a nation state. But other platforms are too close to that red line,” he adds.

Although Sami Khoury doesn’t cite TikTok or its owner ByteDance by name, the inference is clear. Suspicion that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using TikTok for spying has grown in recent weeks.

The European Union is currently looking into potential “transfers by TikTok of personal data to China“. In December 2022, ByteDance admitted using the application to spy on two journalists that were investigating it. Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the CSE was keeping an eye on TikTok.

In response, a spokesperson from TikTok said that the CCP had no control over ByteDance. “We continue to have a constructive relationship with the Canadian government we protect the security and privacy of Canadian users, and gladly respond to any questions that officials may have,” the spokesperson said.

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