City of Ottawa, Ontario government ban TikTok from employees’ phones

The city of Ottawa is banning TikTok from all corporate mobile devices and personal devices that access City managed applications.

The city of Ottawa follows the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments and the city of Gatineau in banning the social media app from city-issued mobile devices.

Effective Thursday, the city says it will restrict access to the TikTok application on all corporate mobile devices and personal devices.

In a memo to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and councillors, Ottawa’s Chief Information Officer Sandro Carlucci says the ban is “due to security concerns”.

“This move follows similar decisions made by the Government of Canada and several provincial governments in response to the application’s collection of personal identifiable information and the potential for that information to be used for malicious purposes, including, but not limited to, sophisticated phishing, whale phishing, or social engineering campaigns.”

Carlucci says the ban only applies to the mobile application version of TikTok installed on city-issued mobile devices, and staff can access the web version through an Internet browser to use the social media platform for business purposes.

Both Ottawa Public Health and the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services department use TikTok. 

Three city councillors have TikTok accounts. Tim Tierney, Ariel Troster and Catherine Kitts each have several videos on their accounts.

On Thursday, the Ontario government announced it will ban the social media app from all government-issued devices. Effective immediately, all PC party caucus members will begin the removal of TikTok from all personal mobile devices.

The city of Gatineau has also banned its employees from having TikTok on their work phones.

“This measure is preventive and is intended to protect institutional data,” Gatineau officials said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Thursday.

Following the Quebec government’s directive to ban TikTok from government devices, the city sent a memo to all of its employees on March 1 asking them to ensure TikTik was not installed on city issued smartphones or personal digital devices.

“In the event that the application was present on the device, the employee was required to uninstall it upon receipt of the note,” the city said.

The city of Gatineau will maintain its presence on TikTok, saying there is currently no ban on the use of TikTik by institutions.

TikTik’s parent company ByteDance is based in China, and there are growing concerns over its connections from the Chinese government and its handling of user data.

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