Canada has imposed a ban on the use of the popular Chinese super-app WeChat on government devices, citing concerns over cybersecurity risks. The ban, effective immediately, also extends to applications from Kaspersky Lab, a Russian antivirus program maker. According to Canada’s Chief Information Officer, these applications pose an “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” While the ban is a precautionary measure, there is no evidence of government information being compromised. This decision follows a previous ban on TikTok in Canada earlier this year due to similar cybersecurity concerns.
WeChat is renowned as one of the world’s most popular apps, often described as a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and PayPal. With over 1 billion users, primarily in mainland China, it serves as an all-in-one platform for various tasks, including ordering groceries, booking appointments, and making payments, all within the app. The ban on WeChat and Kaspersky apps aims to safeguard the privacy and security of Canadian government devices, particularly given their significant access to device contents.
This move aligns with global concerns about potential data security and privacy risks associated with certain applications originating from countries like China and Russia. While TikTok and WeChat have faced scrutiny, WeChat, being more popular among Chinese speakers, has been less of a target in recent times. In the past, the Trump administration attempted to ban both WeChat and TikTok with executive orders, although these attempts faced legal challenges and were eventually revoked by President Joe Biden.