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Canada now bans Chinese WeChat and Russian Kaspersky from government devices

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The Canadian government has imposed bans on the use of the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat and Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky's antivirus software on mobile devices issued to government employees and agencies.

According to an announcement by Canada's Treasury Board, the bans were enacted due to "unacceptable risks" the apps present to data privacy and network security. Specifically, the officers noted concerns over the extensive access the apps have to device contents and usage data.

Both WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, and Kaspersky, regularly collect large amounts of user information. While no evidence was found of any data breaches, officials said the potential security risks were too high.

In a statement, the President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand, said;

The decision to remove and block the WeChat and the 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 bans take effect immediately, with the apps to be removed from all government mobile devices on Monday. Going forward, government employees will also be blocked from downloading or using the apps through work devices.

Kaspersky (via Reuters) expressed disappointment with the move, saying no warning was given and it could not address the concerns raised. The company denies that its software poses any security risks and believes that geopolitics, not product evaluation, drove the decision.

As there has been no evidence or due process to otherwise justify these actions, they are highly unsupported and a response to the geopolitical climate rather than a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky's products and services.

This action follows a similar ban imposed by Canada on the Chinese short video app TikTok earlier this year. Officials indicated the policy aims better to protect government data and networks in line with allies.

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