The government of India banned 59 Chinese applications, including TikTok due to national security concerns. A few days later, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has sent notices with 79 questions lists to these applications’ companies. In the severe warning, the ministry ordered these applications to respond within three weeks, otherwise, they may face a permanent prohibition in India.
India banned dozens of Chinese apps last month, including ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok, Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, and Alibaba’s UC Browser saying they pose a threat to sovereignty and integrity.
The decision to ban the use of Chinese applications in India has shaken the companies such as ByteDance because it had plans to invest $1 billion in the country which sees India as an important growth market for TikTok.
Reuters have also seen a document which claims that the order to ban the application was endorsed to “protect the interests of Indian mobile, Internet users and ensure the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
According to sources, the notice issued by MEITY stated that: “If these Chinese prohibited applications do not respond before July 22, the ban on them will become permanent.” If the reports are to be considered, then these banned company’s reply will be sent to a special committee to review the matter.
Meanwhile, the short video sharing platform TikTok said in its transparency report that it has deleted 16 million videos from Indian users in the last year, due to violations of its policies. According to the report, the total number of videos removed worldwide during the same period was 48 million.
TikTok app downloaded by 467 million in India– nearly one-third of its total downloads. Regarding the time spent on TikTok every day, users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app.
The report also showed that TikTok received a total of 302 requests from India, and the platform satisfied 90% of the requests. The United States made 100 requests, second only to India in the number of requests.
TikTok stated that it has not received any deletion requests or user information requests from China. TikTok spokesperson also affirmed: “We haven’t removed any content at the request of the Chinese government, and will not be deleted it if requested.”
TikTok further stated in a statement: “India is one of our most powerful markets and we are happy to be part of the Digital India mainframe in 15 Indian languages.”
Earlier last month, due to the wake of bitter standoff along LAC, the government led by Narendra Modi banned 59 Chinese applications. A day later, TikTok India head issued a statement and claimed that the app continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law.
Nikhil Gandhi, India TikTok head stated that the Indian government has issued a provisional order prohibiting 59 applications, including TikTok, and we are complying it with the procedure.
We have been invited to meet with concerned stakeholders to have the opportunity to provide clarification and respond to all their questions. TikTok India’s head further stated that TikTok proceeds to comply with all data security and privacy requirements under Indian law. It has not shared any data and information of our Indian users with Chinese and any foreign government.
After TikTok accused the Modi government of “inviting” the company to meet and submit a clarification, it is not clear whether this indicates that the ban can be overturned in any way, or whether the center has further planned to investigate the company for any suspected data sharing practices.
Why the government approached the Rajasthan court? It is also not clear yet that they were plans to file similar petitions elsewhere.
The Indian court did not comment on the cases. Even India’s IT Ministry and the Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier, China had expressed strong concern about the ban, which may damage expansion plans and cost jobs, and indicated that it may violate World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.
Beijing has requested the Indian government to reconsider its decision. The app makers also stated that they are requesting and having utterances with the Indian government for the same.
No Chinese company has yet faced legal challenges, and industry sources said they are awaiting further clarification from the Indian government.
Therefore, India’s IT ministry recently asked companies related to 59 applications to answer detailed questionnaires about their business structure and data storage practices within three weeks, the industry sources told Reuters.