TikTok India said today that it is complying with the government's orders.
- TikTok, UC Browser and WeChat are among the 59 Chinese apps blocked
- Banned apps will be given chance to respond to government's concerns
- India Is said to be TikTok's biggest international market
TikTok India said today it had been invited by the government to offer clarifications after it was blocked on Monday along with 58 Chinese mobile apps over national security and privacy concerns. The popular video sharing app said it was in the process of complying with the government order and "continued to comply with data privacy and security requirements under Indian law". The government move underscores escalating tensions between India and China after the deadly clash on June 15 in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action.
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TikTok, UC Browser and WeChat are among the 59 Chinese apps blocked for "engaging in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order." The apps have been removed from Play store and App Store. Internet Service Providers have been asked by the government to block access and data to these apps.
The ban is interim, the government says. The banned apps will be given a chance to respond to the government's concerns before a committee that includes various ministries. The committee will then recommend whether to remove the ban or continue it.
In its statement, TikTok India said it had not shared any information of users in India with "any foreign government, including the Chinese government".
The viral app added "if we are requested to in the future we would not do so," asserting that it placed highest importance on user privacy and integrity.
"We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications," TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said.
"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 Mr Gandhi.
The decision to disallow certain apps "is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace," said the Ministry of Information Technology. The ministry said it had received complaints alleging theft of user data and violations of user privacy. The home ministry has contradicted claims by these apps that since their servers are based in Singapore, they do not send user data to China.
The ban on Chinese apps comes amid massive outrage and street protests over the brawl at the Galwan river valley in which Indian soldiers were attacked by Chinese troops with crude but lethal weapons like spiked clubs and nail-studded rods.
There have been calls for banning Chinese businesses, which export goods worth nearly $60 billion to India, according to news agency AFP.
Chinese mobiles have an almost 65 percent share in the local smartphone market and video-sharing apps like TikTok and Helo are wildly popular among younger users. India Is said to be TikTok's biggest international market with about 120 million users.