Hours after the government banned 59 apps originating from China, including TikTok, UC Browser and ShareIt, TikTok India on Tuesday said it is in the process of complying with the government order and that it has not shared any information of Indian users with foreign governments, including China.
The app’s India head Nikhil Gandhi said, “The government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.”
“TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Further, if we are requested to in the future, we could not do so. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity”, Gandhi added.
— TikTok India (@TikTok_IN) June 30, 2020
On Monday, citing the “emergent nature of threats” from mobile applications, including popular ones of Chinese origin such as TikTok, ShareIt, UCBrowser, Club Factory and CamScanner, the Centre banned 59 apps based on information that they were engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity”, defence, security and public order.
“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India,” the government said in a statement.
“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern, which requires emergency measures,” it said.
“On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government…has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” it said.
The move is seen as a retaliatory step amid the tense border standoff between India and China that led to 20 Indian Army personnel being killed on June 15. State-owned telecom companies have since moved to keep Chinese vendors out of their network upgradation tenders.
“The access to, and storage and usage of, data of Indian users by several of these apps was apparently a concern for some time already. While the protection of that data may be the ostensible reason for this move, its impact on the companies concerned will remain to be seen. In addition to this move, the government should look at strengthening India’s data privacy and protection laws,” said Vivek Chandy, Joint Managing Partner at J Sagar Associates.
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