WeChat, Kaspersky Banned from Canadian Government Devices

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WeChat, created by the Shenzhen-based tech giant Tencent, is a widely used app for social media, instant messaging, networking, and payments. It has over one billion users, mostly Chinese and South Asians. In August, Global Affairs Canada revealed a disinformation campaign on WeChat that disseminated false information about Conservative MP Michael Chong.

Between May 4 and 13, 2023, a coordinated network of WeChat’s news accounts featured, shared, and amplified a large volume of false or misleading narratives about Mr. Chong,” said the Canadian government.

Today, the Chinese social media app faces a ban from all government mobile devices in Canada. It is not common for WeChat to get bans. This is if one compares the app to TikTok. In 2020, President Trump had originally banned both WeChat and TikTok in the USA. However, his decision was rescinded by President Biden soon after he took office. This did not stop TikTok scrutiny and the app has been subject to bans by specific US state governments. It has also received a fine from the EU industry regulator.

For the Canadian case, the country admits there has been no evidence that government information has been compromised. The move is a cybersecurity risk mitigation that will have the app removed from all government mobile devices. Canada had earlier in the year banned TikTok from government devices.

Kaspersky Ban

The same fate will befall Kaspersky. Software from the cybersecurity company that is of Russian origin has been deemed to present “an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” This is another move where Canada is following the footsteps of its southern neighbour. U.S. regulators have already banned federal government use of Kaspersky software.

“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  Canadian government statement said.