As first reported by BBC, Canada has taken a decisive step by prohibiting the use of WeChat on all government-operated devices. WeChat, a brainchild of the Chinese giant Tencent, has earned the moniker of the “everything app” due to its all-encompassing functionalities, seamlessly integrating features reminiscent of platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Amazon, and Tinder.
Despite its dominant presence in regions like China, Southeast Asia, and among global Chinese diaspora communities, the app has come under scrutiny from Western governments. The crux of their apprehension revolves around potential espionage activities facilitated through the app.
Anita Anand, who helms Canada’s Treasury Board, provided assurance that there’s no concrete evidence pointing towards any breach of government information via WeChat. Yet, she underscored the nation’s commitment to a “risk-based approach to cyber security,” which precipitated the decision to curtail access to certain apps on government mobile devices.
In a broader sweep, Canada is also tightening the noose on Kaspersky, a cybersecurity entity rooted in Russia. The mandate ensures users are stripped of access to these apps and are barred from future downloads.
An intriguing facet of this development is the overshadowing of WeChat’s potential risks by the more publicized concerns surrounding TikTok. Many cybersecurity experts believe that WeChat, despite its lesser traction among North American government personnel compared to TikTok, could be a more latent threat. It’s noteworthy that an attempt to ban WeChat was made in 2020 by then US president, Donald Trump, but was stopped by a legal injunction.