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Canada Bans Tencent and Kaspersky Apps from Government Mobile Devices Over Privacy and Security Concerns
Plus, Meta Introduces Ad-Free Subscription Option for Facebook and Instagram in EU, EEA, and Switzerland to Comply with Data Protection Regulations
Government takes a proactive stance to protect sensitive data from potential risks associated with WeChat and Kaspersky's applications
In a decisive move to bolster its national cybersecurity, Canada has implemented a ban on the use of Tencent's WeChat and Kaspersky's suite of applications on government-issued mobile devices, effective as of October 30, 2023. The government's decision is grounded in concerns over an "unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security." Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board, emphasized that this action is a risk-based approach to safeguarding government information and networks, as these apps reportedly grant considerable access to device contents.
WeChat, developed by the Chinese tech giant Tencent, is an all-in-one platform with over 1 billion monthly active users, encompassing instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment services. Meanwhile, Kaspersky, a prominent Russian cybersecurity vendor, decried the ban as politically motivated, asserting that it lacks comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of their products and services. The prohibition follows a similar ban on ByteDance-owned TikTok from government devices in February 2023 and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's addition of Kaspersky to the "Covered List" in March 2022, citing "unacceptable risk to national security." Canada's action underscores its commitment to maintaining the security and privacy of government information, in a landscape where concerns over data security and geopolitical influences continue to shape digital policy decisions.
Meta's move aims to address evolving data protection regulations in Europe, offering users the choice to access Facebook and Instagram without ads for a fee
In response to changing data protection regulations in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has unveiled plans to introduce an ad-free subscription option for users in these regions. This ad-free subscription, priced at €9.99 per month on the web and €12.99 per month on iOS and Android, is set to be officially available starting next month, granting users the choice to enjoy a personalized ad-free experience on these social media platforms.
Meta's decision to offer this subscription model follows a €390 million fine imposed in January related to breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The DPC found that users had no option but to accept Meta's terms of service to access its digital platforms, which included consent for targeted advertising based on their online activity.
Starting in November, users in these regions will be able to choose between the free, ad-supported version or the paid, ad-free subscription. During the subscription period, Meta commits not to use subscribers' information for advertising purposes.
Additionally, Meta plans to introduce a fee for additional accounts listed in a user's Account Center, beginning March 1, 2024, amounting to €6 per month on the web and €8 per month on iOS or Android.
This move aligns with Meta's intention, announced in August 2023, to transition to a consent-based approach that allows users to opt out of behavioral advertising practices. The company cites a July ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which supports the concept of offering an equivalent alternative for a fee, not accompanied by extensive data processing operations.
Simultaneously, Meta will temporarily pause displaying ads to users under 18 in regions where the ad-free subscription is accessible, starting on November 6, 2023.
In presenting this ad-free subscription option, Meta seeks to balance the demands of European regulators, empower users with choice, and maintain its ability to serve all individuals in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, emphasizing its commitment to data privacy and compliance with evolving regulations.
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