Canadian Privacy Regulators Announce Joint Investigation Into TikTok

From a press release issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

The privacy protection authorities for Canada, Québec, British Columbia and Alberta announced today that they will jointly investigate the short-form video streaming application TikTok.


The four privacy regulators will examine whether the organization’s practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation and in particular, whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The investigation will also determine if the company is meeting its transparency obligations, particularly when collecting personal information from its users.

This comes after multiple European authorities have investigated TikTok or are in the process of doing so; the company has been fined for its practices in France and the Netherlands. It will be interesting to see what Canadian regulators can dig up.

A quirk of the OPC is how it can make recommendations but has no authority to prosecute. After a similar investigation into Clearview’s facial recognition systems, it concluded the company conducted “mass surveillance of Canadians”, but could not issue fines or order Clearview to make changes. The company’s response was predictably weak: it created a manual opt-out mechanism and pulled out of the Canadian market. But Clearview is still conducting mass surveillance on all Canadians who have not requested removal.

Similarly, while the OPC may find embarrassing and dangerous things TikTok could be doing in Canada, Bytedance can simply deny any wrongdoing and carry on — unless the OPC pursues the matter in court.