Canadian privacy commissioners launch investigation into TikTok over handling of user data

Feb 26, 2023 | Political News

On Thursday, Canada's federal privacy protection authority as well as those of British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec, announced that they would be launching a joint investigation into TikTok.

In a joint statement, the four privacy protection authorities explained that their investigation will examine whether TikTok is acting in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation with a particular focus on “whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.”

“The investigation,” they added, “will also determine if the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users.”

The move comes amid increased scrutiny over how the Chinese social media application manages users' data.

The privacy protection authorities went on to point out that young people make up “an important proportion of TikTok users,” and thus, “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.

The privacy protection authorities noted that the investigation was “initiated in the wake of now settled, class action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, as well as numerous media reports related to TikTok’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information.”

One such lawsuit was settled in 2022, with the British Columbia Supreme Court approving a $2 million payout to those impacted by TikTok's handling of their data. It came on the heels of a similar settlement reached in the United States that resulted in a $92 million payout.

Whereas Canada has been more cautious when it comes to banning TikTok, the United States has gone ahead and made the move in varying capacities in the interest of national security.

In December, the Senate passed a bill prohibiting the app from being used on any government device, a move that has been mirrored at the state level as well.