Ottawa-area MPP deletes TikTok account as Ontario, city of Ottawa ban app on work devices

As the city of Ottawa and Ontario government move to ban TikTok from all work devices over security concerns, an Ottawa-area MPP deleted her TikTok account on Friday.

Meantime, Ottawa police say all officers and staff were directed to remove the social media app from work and personal devices three months ago.

On Thursday, the city and Ontario government announced it would no longer allow the app on any work-related devices. The new order follows the federal government’s TikTok ban last week.

Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari shut down her TikTok account and deleted it from her personal phone due to the ban. 

“TikTok is a personal account, and I only use it on my personal phone. I’ve gotten rid of my TikTok account for now. But it’s not something that I want to do. It’s something that as a politician, I have to do,” Ghamari said. She had grown her account to 282,000 TikTok followers.

Coun. Catherine Kitts, one of three councillors with a TikTok account, says that she was not very active on the platform, so the ban wouldn’t be a significant loss to her. 

“Actually, I have a work phone and a personal phone. If I did want to keep up with the platform, I guess we could look at doing it that way. Because I don’t have my email or my Teams or anything on the city server, on my personal phone,” Kitts said.

The ban also extends to any personal phones that access work-related applications. While access to TikTok through a web browser on a computer or laptop has not been banned, technology analyst Carmi Levy suggests that a broader ban could be forthcoming. 

“Still, you’re logged into a TikTok account. It is still collecting data through the browser; it is still being shared with an unknown source, potentially in China. So it’s a different kind of or level of risk, but it’s risk all the same,” Levy said.

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

“When the federal government announced it last week, it was just government-issued devices, whereas now we’re starting to see more subtlety. It’s government-issued devices as well as personal devices on which you could be doing potentially government-related work,” Levy added.

The Ottawa Police Service also removing the app from devices. 

“At the Ottawa Police Service we actually, about three or four months ago, we ensured that they were removed from all of our work devices or personal devices as well too,” Chief Eric Stubbs said. “Obviously, there’s risks there.”

The ban on TikTok for employees of several governments has led to speculation about whether the private sector will follow suit. 

“You know, it’s always disappointing when you’ve worked hard on a platform,” says Kitts. “But, got to be safe.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Josh Pringle and Peter Szperling

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