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Manitoba Premier Says He Follows Security Precautions on TikTok

December 29, 2023 9:25 AM | The Canadian Press

By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Wab Kinew

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew is seen in the legislative assembly during the first session of the 43rd Manitoba legislature throne speech at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

As Manitoba’s first premier from the millennial generation, Wab Kinew is familiar with, and a big believer in, the reach of social media.

He has tens of thousands of followers on various platforms, including TikTok, which is banned on government devices due to security concerns.

Kinew, in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, said he has taken steps to ensure that his posts are made by staff on non-government devices.

“I don’t run the TikTok account and I don’t keep a TikTok app on my devices, but this is one of the ways that we talk to Manitobans, and I think there is some segment of the population out there that gets their political news from this app,” he said. “And so we want to be present there.”

There have been concerns the Chinese government could access sensitive data from TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. Laws allow China to order companies to help it gather intelligence.

Canada’s federal government banned TikTok from its devices in February after the country’s chief information officer said the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security”.

Provinces followed suit. Manitoba enacted a ban on government devices in March, citing a need to protect government information.

Kinew’s TikTok account has 65,000 followers. Uploaded videos include weekly updates in which Kinew lists things the NDP government has done, a waterfront walk in Halifax where he and other premiers met in November, and a three-point shot on a Winnipeg basketball court during the provincial election campaign.

Plans for future videos include one to tout the government’s six-month suspension of the provincial fuel tax, which is set to start Jan. 1.

Kinew says aside from not using government devices, many of his TikTok videos are recorded in places other than the legislature.

“It does mean a bit of a workaround, where we’re doing the TikTok videos on different devices and uploading it on different devices and it’s staff that’s doing that.”

Among Kinew’s communications staff is a director of “premier’s digital engagement,” hired at $130,000 a year.

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