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Canada bans WeChat, Kaspersky applications on government devices

OTTAWA: Canada on Monday (Oct 30) banned Chinese messaging application WeChat and Russian antivirus program Kaspersky on government-issued mobile devices due to privacy and security risks, but said government information had not been compromised.

The ban was announced after an assessment by Canada’s chief information officer that Tencent-owned WeChat and applications made by Moscow-based Kaspersky “present an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” the Treasury Board of Canada, which oversees public administration, said in a statement.

Kaspersky said it was surprised and disappointed, and that the decision was made without warning or an opportunity for the firm to address the government’s concerns.

“As there has been no evidence or due process to otherwise justify these actions, they are highly unsupported and a response to the geopolitical climate rather than a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services,” the company said in a statement.

WeChat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Treasury Board said it has no evidence that government information has been compromised, but the collection methods of the applications provide considerable access to a device’s contents, and risks of using them were “clear.”

“The decision to remove and block the WeChat and the 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 statement said.

The applications will be removed from government-issued mobile devices on Monday, and users will be blocked from downloading them in the future.

Canada in February banned TikTok, the short-video app owned by Chinese company Bytedance, from government-issued devices due to similar privacy and security concerns. 

Related:

Republican Senator Rand Paul blocks bid to ban Chinese-owned TikTok
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