McGill University has announced that it is prohibiting the use of the Chinese social media and messaging application WeChat on all McGill-managed or owned devices. This includes desktop and laptop computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Those in possession of devices that have already installed the app are asked to delete it. The measure takes effect immediately.
The university’s decision to ban WeChat follows similar moves by the federal government of Canada and the Quebec government. In October, the federal government announced that it was banning WeChat from all government-issued devices, citing concerns about the app’s data privacy practices. The Quebec government followed suit in November, issuing a directive prohibiting the use of WeChat on devices owned by public institutions in the province.
McGill’s ban on WeChat is part of a broader effort to protect university data and ensure the security of its networks. The university has also advised its employees to be vigilant when using apps that can access their personal information and to exercise discretion when using such apps on devices that may contain sensitive university data.
This is not the first time that McGill has taken steps to protect its data and networks. In 2019, the university banned the use of TikTok, another Chinese-owned social media app, on all McGill-owned devices. The ban was also motivated by concerns about the app’s data privacy practices.
The growing number of institutions banning WeChat is a reflection of the increasing scrutiny of Chinese technology companies and their data practices. In recent years, there have been growing concerns about the potential for these companies to share user data with the Chinese government. These concerns have been amplified by the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent and its use of technology to surveil its citizens.