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TikTok India says ‘complying’ with ban order, not sharing users’ data with China; firm given chance to clarify

The Government on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns amid strained bilateral relations between India and China following Galwan valley clash.

SNS | New Delhi |

TikTok India on Tuesday said it is “complying” with the Indian government order after it was blocked on Monday evening along with 58 other Chinese applications.

The Chinese short-video making app has also said that it is not sharing any data of Indian users with the Chinese government.

“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,” Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok India, said in a statement.

He further said that the company has 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,” Gandhi explained.

The Government on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns amid strained bilateral relations between India and China following the death of 20 Armymen in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese PLA troops in eastern Ladakh on June 15.

Meanwhile, TikTok disappeared from Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store on Tuesday following the government orders.

ByteDance-owned TikTok said that it places the highest importance on user privacy and integrity.

“TikTok has democratized the internet by making it available in 14 Indian languages, with hundreds of millions of users, artists, story-tellers, educators and performers depending on it for their livelihood, many of whom are first-time internet users,” said Nikhil Gandhi.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, invoking it’s power under section 69 A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats decided to block 59 apps since in view of the information available they are “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order”.

“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” Ministry of Information and Technology further said in a statement.

“The Ministry has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India,” it said.

“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 added.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs had also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps. This Ministry also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps, it said.

The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) had also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues.

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 of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet-enabled devices, the ministry statement read.

The Ministry also claimed that this move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a “targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace,” it said.