The Government of Canada has instructed government employees to immediately uninstall WeChat and Kaspersky apps from their smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Canada has banned the Chinese messaging app WeChat and the Russian antivirus software Kaspersky from government devices, citing privacy and security concerns. The ban, which took effect on October 30, 2023, applies to all government-issued mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
The Canadian government said that its decision was based on an assessment by Canada’s chief information officer that found that WeChat and Kaspersky “present an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
The assessment found that both apps collect a wide range of data from users, including their contacts, location, and financial information. It also found that both apps could be used to plant malware on devices or to track communications.
The Chinese government has criticized Canada’s ban, calling it “unreasonable and discriminatory.” Tencent, the company that owns WeChat, has said that the app is “committed to protecting the privacy and security of its users.” Kaspersky has also denied any wrongdoing.
Canada’s ban on WeChat and Kaspersky is part of a broader trend of Western governments taking a more cautious approach to Chinese and Russian technology companies. In recent years, there have been growing concerns that these companies could be used by their governments to spy on users or to interfere in foreign elections.
In addition to Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have also banned Kaspersky and WeChat from government devices. The United States has also gone further, imposing sanctions on several Chinese technology companies, including Huawei and ZTE.
The ban is likely to have a significant impact on the Chinese and Russian technology industries. WeChat is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, with over 1.2 billion active users. Kaspersky is also one of the most popular antivirus software companies in the world, with over 400 million active users.
In a press release published on October 30th, 2023, Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board, stated that,
“We are taking a risk-based approach to cyber security by removing access to these applications on government mobile devices. The Government of Canada continuously works to safeguard our information systems and networks to ensure the privacy and protection of government information. We will continue to regularly monitor potential cyber threats and take immediate action when needed.”Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board
The ban is also likely to send a message to other Western governments that they should be more cautious about using technology from China and Russia. It could also lead to other Western governments imposing similar bans on Chinese and Russian technology companies.
Overall, Canada’s ban on WeChat and Kaspersky is a significant step that is likely to have a major impact on the global technology industry. It is also a sign that Western governments are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for Chinese and Russian technology companies to be used for malicious purposes.
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