The notice issued by the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) has asked for detailed explanations to questions regarding excessive collection of data, storage of data and how the apps have become hub of anti-national activities. The apps have been asked if they comply with IT intermediary rules.
Taking cognizance of reports of TikTok and Helo being used for anti-national activities, the government has issued notices to the social media apps asking them to answer a set of 24 questions by July 22, failing which they could be banned in India.
The apps, which are owned by China-based firm ByteDance, have recently become popular, especially in smaller towns and cities. A few days ago, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) called for a ban on the apps in order to protect India’s national security and the start-up ecosystem.
The notice issued by the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) has asked for detailed explanations to questions regarding excessive collection of data, storage of data and how the apps have become hub of anti-national activities. The apps have been asked if they comply with IT intermediary rules. “Does TikTok use the services of influencers? In such case, TikTok will not be an intermediary. Please share your response,” said the notice.
Reacting to the notice, TikTok and Helo in a joint statement said India is one of its strongest markets where it will invest $1 billion over the next three years. “We take our responsibilities to this community seriously and welcome this opportunity to fully collaborate with the government to meet and exceed our obligations,” the company said. It, however, did not say anything about the questions raised in the notice.
The MeitY has sought assurance from the apps that data of Indian users will not be transferred to any other foreign government. The notice sought details if data are shared with any third party and for what purpose. “Are TikTok and Helo considering storing/processing data in India,” asked the notice, a copy of which has been seen by FE.
The government has sought response on the initiatives being taken to check fake news and steps being taken to be compliant under Indian laws. The government has asked for explanation from Helo on allegations that it has paid a huge sum for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms.
The government has also questioned the rationale behind the minimum age limit of 13 years to use TikTok in India, where a person below 18 is considered a child. The notice also said it has been stated that there are lot of obscene contents available on the TikTok platform. “Please explicitly confirm your policy on the same and the preventive measures taken by TikTok to ensure that such contents do not appear on the platform,” the government said in the notice.
The government has also sought details about a $5.7-million fine imposed by the US Federal Trade Commission on issues related to child privacy. The app has been asked to share its community guidelines and how does it ensure that it does not become tools in the hands of anti-social elements.