Canada has officially prohibited the use of WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging application, and Kaspersky, the Russian antivirus program, on government-issued mobile devices. This decision comes in light of perceived privacy and security risks. However, Canadian authorities clarified that there has been no compromise of government information as a result of these applications, reported Reuters.
The ban was declared following an extensive evaluation by Canada’s chief information officer, who found that both WeChat, owned by Tencent, and Kaspersky, developed by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, posed an “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” The Treasury Board of Canada, responsible for overseeing public administration, released an official statement regarding this ban.
China’s foreign ministry swiftly responded to the decision, accusing the Canadian government of imposing restrictions on Chinese businesses without concrete evidence. They alleged that the ban was justified under the guise of data security, a move they deemed a broad interpretation of national security. The Chinese ministry further expressed concern that these actions overstepped national authority and unreasonably suppressed the activities of businesses from specific countries.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, stated in a regular press briefing on Tuesday, “We hope that the Canadian side will discard ideological prejudices, abide by the principles of the market economy, and provide a fair, just, and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises.”
Kaspersky Lab, on the other hand, expressed surprise and disappointment at the Canadian decision. The company claimed that the ban had been enacted without prior warning and without allowing them the opportunity to address the government’s concerns. They emphasized the absence of any concrete evidence or due process to substantiate the ban.
In an official statement, Kaspersky stated, “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.”