Canada has officially banned the use of Chinese messaging application WeChat and Russian antivirus program Kaspersky on government-issued mobile devices.
The decision was taken in response to concerns about potential privacy and security risks associated with these apps. The Treasury Board of Canada, responsible for overseeing public administration, announced the ban following a thorough assessment by Canada’s chief information officer.
In a statement, the Treasury Board stated, “WeChat, owned by Tencent, and applications developed by Moscow-based Kaspersky, present an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” The assessment raised significant concerns about the potential vulnerabilities these applications might introduce to government systems and data.
Importantly, the government of Canada clarified that, at this time, there is no evidence to suggest that government information has been compromised due to the use of these apps. Nevertheless, the risks associated with WeChat and Kaspersky were considered substantial, prompting the ban.
“The decision to remove and block the WeChat and Kaspersky applications was made to ensure that government of Canada networks and data remain secure and protected and are in line with the approach of our international partners,” the Treasury Board stated, emphasizing its commitment to maintaining the highest standards of privacy and security for government information.
As a result of this ban, WeChat and Kaspersky applications will be removed from government-issued mobile devices on Monday, and users will be blocked from downloading them in the future. This action reflects Canada’s proactive approach to safeguarding sensitive government data from potential security vulnerabilities.
This decision follows Canada’s earlier ban on TikTok, a short-video app owned by Chinese company Bytedance, in February. That ban was enacted for similar reasons related to privacy and security concerns on government-issued devices. Canada continues to prioritize the protection of government information and the security of its digital infrastructure.
This move aligns with the broader international efforts to mitigate cybersecurity risks and maintain data privacy in an era where digital security remains a paramount concern.