Canada's Privacy Authorities Will Now Investigate TikTok

The joint probe involves regulators in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Feb 23, 2023

While it isn't a move to ban the app outright, Canadian privacy protection regulators have announced plans to investigate wildly popular social media platform TikTok.

The examination of the "short-form video streaming application" will be undertaken by privacy protection authorities for Canada, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.

News of the investigation arrives following now-settled North American class action lawsuits against TikTok's parent company ByteDance Ltd., and "numerous media reports related to TikTok's collection, use and disclosure of personal information."

Through the investigation, the four regulatory bodies will "examine whether the organization's practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation" and "whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information," citing "transparency obligations." 

"An important proportion of TikTok users are younger users," the announcement reads. "Given the importance of protecting children's privacy, the joint investigation will have a particular focus on TikTok's privacy practices as they relate to younger users, including whether the company obtained valid and meaningful consent from these users for the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information."

Specifically, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) will investigate TikTok's compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), while Alberta and British Columbia's respective Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner will look into compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act.

Meanwhile, the Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec (CAI) will investigate compliance with the province's Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector and the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology.

As the investigation is currently active, the federal privacy commissioner's office stated that no additional details will be provided at this time.

In late December 2022, US President Joe Biden approved a limited TikTok ban prohibiting use of the app on electronic devices used by federal government employees.

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