TikTok Faces Joint Privacy Probe by Canadian Regulators
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) today announced the launch of a joint investigation into TikTok, alongside the privacy protection authorities for Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta.
According to the regulators, the probe comes “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.”
The investigation is a joint effort between:
- The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which will investigate TikTok’s compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA);
- The Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec (CAI), which will investigate TikTok’s compliance with the Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector and the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology in Québec;
- The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia (OIPC BC), which will investigate compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act; and
- The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC AB), which will also investigate compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act.
TikTok has repeatedly been accused of mishandling user data, with a U.S. Senator recently calling for Apple and Google to ban the popular short-form video streaming app from the App Store and Play Store over cybersecurity and privacy concerns.
As part of their joint investigation, the four privacy regulators will examine whether TikTok’s practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation, whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, and whether the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users.
The probe will also have a particular focus on TikTok’s privacy practices as they relate to younger users, who make up a large portion of the platform’s audience.
A recent report from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found TikTok to be promoting videos about self-harm and eating disorders to susceptible teens. Earlier this year, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against TikTok and several other social networks in the U.S., alleging that these platforms “exploited the vulnerable brains of youth.”
TikTok said in a statement to CTV News that the company looks forward to working with federal and provincial authorities “to set the record straight” with Canadians.
“The privacy and safety of the TikTok community, particularly our younger users, is always a top priority, and we are committed to operating with transparency to earn and maintain the trust of the many Canadians who create and find joy on our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an unattributed statement.