Security News Canada to remove China’s top messaging app WeChat from government devices

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Nov 10, 2017
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The government of Canada has decided that Tencent’s WeChat app, and Kaspersky's security suite, are too risky to run on government-issued mobile devices.

The president of Canada’s Treasury Board, Anita Anand, anounced the ban on Monday.

“The Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that WeChat and Kaspersky suite of applications present an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” the announcement states. “On a mobile device, the WeChat and Kaspersky applications data collection methods provide considerable access to the device’s contents.”

WeChat and its China-only version Weixin have over 1.3 billion monthly average users according to Chinese tech giant Tencent’s most recent results [PDF]. The apps offer messaging, social media, and payment services – a combo Elon Musk hopes to replicate with his planned evolution of X into an “everything app”.

WeChat is thought to be a channel Beijing uses to contact, and influence, the Chinese diaspora, a theory that has earned it critics in some governments. In 2021, for example, the Trump administration tried to ban the app outright – on personal or government devices. That decision was overturned by the Biden administration.

Australia considers WeChat it a highly risk chunk of code and some government departments only allow it on devices when there is a clear need for its presence.
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