The City of Kingston is following the lead of the federal and provincial governments and banning TikTok on employees’ work devices.
The City’s Chief Information Officer, Jeff Bumstead, says there was already some discussion of a ban and the Canadian government’s decision helped move that along.
“We had been having some internal discussions prior to the announcement from the feds about the risks and the possible restrictions on usage,” Bumstead said.
“That was really just kind of the final incident that put us over to make the decision.”
The removal was implemented as of March 20th and is still underway.
The federal government brought the ban in over security and intelligence concerns from the China based app, and Bumstead said the same concerns were at the centre of discussions within the city.
Bumstead says while he can’t speak much to city employee’s feelings around the app, in some conversations he’s had people are definitely starting to think about deleting the app off of their personal devices as well.
“I know certainly several people within the department have made the decision either before or subsequent to our internal ban to stop using it themselves,” Bumstead said.
Several departments in the city like Tourism Kingston use TikTok for promotional purposes, and considering it’s continued popularity the ban could pose an issue in that regard.
Bumstead says there’s a couple different solutions to that, some organizations will choose to utilize a third party in the creation of videos and there will be desktop or laptop devices that can access the app outside of the city’s network.
For Queen’s University, a ban of the app is not on the agenda anytime soon.
“Queen’s University has a number of Cyber Security Awareness Tips including specific recommendations on use of Social Media applications. These recommendations are designed to protect the privacy and security needs of our institution, staff and students,” a statement from Queen’s reads.
“We continually evaluate and update our processes to reflect the ever-changing Information and Communications Technology landscape and to reflect best practices. We advocate for cautious and informed use of all social media platforms on Queen’s-owned devices, but do not have policies that prohibit such use at this time.”
The university said it will update policies for Queen’s owned devices as necessary.
St. Lawrence College said they too are following along and will consider changes to their permissions around the app as necessary.
“St. Lawrence College is closely watching developments on sector-wide policies around the use of TikTok and will evaluate internally any potential impact to our marketing and promotional activities on the app,” President and CEO Glenn Vollebregt said in a statement.
“The College will be in line with government policy and adjust our online presence as needed.”
TikTok is owned by Beijing based tech company ByteDance and security concerns are not new, in 2020 there were calls to outright ban the app in many countries but concerns have continued to grow around the company’s connection to Chinese government.