Singh mulls TikTok return as U.S. nears potential ban over security fears

Click to play video: 'Trudeau declines to comment on U.S. TikTok ban as key bill passes'
Trudeau declines to comment on U.S. TikTok ban as key bill passes
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wouldn’t comment as the U.S. closed in on a bill that could ban TikTok, but said he continues to “look closely” at measures to ensure the “safety, security, privacy and data protection” of Canadians. – Apr 24, 2024

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he is considering personally reactivating his TikTok account as the U.S. government moves in the opposite direction with the looming possibility of a ban on the popular social media platform over security concerns.

“We’re making that consideration on how to get back on in a safe way,” said Singh at a news conference Wednesday in Edmonton.

A year ago, the NDP leader had nearly a million TikTok followers – one of the largest for a Canadian politician.

He deactivated the app last year, after the federal Liberals banned it on government-issued phones.

The move came as Western leaders expressed concerns TikTok could share user data with China – something the company denies.

“Those concerns for federal devices I understood and I listened,” Singh told reporters.

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But the NDP leader says his party “is back on the platform” and is mulling a return “on [his] personal side.”

Singh made the remarks the same day U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law, forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the app within the year or face an American ban.

Click to play video: 'New poll shows Canadians may be in favor of banning TikTok'
New poll shows Canadians may be in favor of banning TikTok
“I think they’re very worried about foreign interference with the [U.S.] elections coming up. So, they’re taking some very stark steps,” said Western University sociology professor Anabel Quan-Haase, who studies social networks and technology.

Right now, a public inquiry into foreign interference is underway in Canada, looking at attempts particularly by China, to meddle in democratic institutions and influence society.

TikTok has vowed to challenge the U.S. law in court, which it calls “unconstitutional.”

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Trudeau was coy when asked whether he would support a similar move in Canada.

“I’m not going to comment on what other governments are doing. What I will say is Canada will continue to look very closely at how we can make sure we’re keeping Canadians safe,” said the prime minister in Oakville, Ont.

While Singh said he wants “guarantees that Canadians are protected when they use any social media platform.”

But security experts have long warned Canada has been slow to take the threat of China seriously.

“Canada has always been a follower of these matters, both as a middle power and in terms of taking its cues,” Queen’s University professor and defence expert Christian Leuprecht told Global News.

Under Chinese law, TikTok’s parent company could be required to share data with the state, something Leuprecht warns may enable Beijing to “influence” Canadian voters.

“[China] plays the long game,” said Leuprecht.

“It would allow for a very fine-grained understanding of, Canadian, U.S., North American society. If you’re able to track that data over a matter of 10 or 20 years. So this is a long-term investment by TikTok and the Communist Party of China.”

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