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Canada reviewing TikTok's expansion plan for national security risks

The offices of TikTok in Culver City, California

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada in September ordered a national security review of a proposal by TikTok to expand the short-video app's business in the country, the industry ministry said on Thursday.

The potential outcome of the review, which could range from Canada asking TikTok to take mitigation measures to even blocking the expansion, could add to the company's growing woes.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a bill to force TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance to divest the U.S. assets of the app or face a ban. The measure is the latest in a series of moves in Washington to respond to U.S. national security concerns about China, from connected vehicles to advanced artificial intelligence chips to cranes at U.S. ports.

The Canadian review is focused only on TikTok's investment plan, according to a statement from industry ministry, meaning it is unlikely to result in an outright ban like the one proposed in the U.S.

"Our government is closely following developments related to the bill being proposed by U.S. lawmakers," a government spokesperson said. The spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of Canada's reviews but added it was not related to the U.S. bill.

Under Canadian law, the government can assess potential risks to national security from foreign investments such as the TikTok proposal. The law prevents the government from revealing the details of such investments.

Canada last year banned TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an "unacceptable" level of risk to privacy and security. Canada's privacy commissioner is also investigating TikTok's collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that the company was cooperating with the national security review.

We "remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of the platform for the millions of Canadian creators, artists and small businesses who rely on TikTok to earn a living, find community and create jobs," the spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in OttawaEditing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)