Head of Canada’s intelligence agency warns Canadians not to use TikTok

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Canada’s security agency is trying to dissuade Canadians from using TikTok, telling users that their data is “available to the government of China.”

In an interview with CBC News set to air on Saturday, David Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said that “there is a very clear strategy on the part of the government of China … to be able to acquire … personal information from around the world,” the CBC reports

“They’re using big data analytics, they have amazing computer farms crunching the data, they are developing artificial intelligence … based on using this data,” Vigneault added.

The Chinese government’s ability to access user data is at the forefront of US efforts to regulate — and potentially even ban — the app. Congress passed a bill that would ban TikTok unless it divests from its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, in April. TikTok sued the US government over the law in May, arguing that the looming ban is unconstitutional. 

TikTok has previously claimed that staffers in China are unable to access US and European users’ data. The company has undertaken two massive corporate restructuring efforts — Project Texas and Project Clover, referring to the US and European endeavors, respectively — to silo off user data from China. US user data is hosted in Oracle’s cloud infrastructure and isn’t supposed to be accessible by anyone outside the US, though a recent report by Fortune suggests efforts to secure US user data have been “largely cosmetic.”

“These assertions are unsupported by evidence, and the fact is that TikTok has never shared Canadian user data with the Chinese government, nor would we if asked,” TikTok spokesperson Danielle Morgan told The Verge.

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