Through these questions, the government has sought details about, ‘unauthorised data access’ by the banned Chinese firms, which could lead to espionage/surveillance like activities.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has sent a notice along with an exhaustive list of around 70 questions to TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps that were banned by the government last week. Through these questions, the government has sought details about, “unauthorised data access” by the banned Chinese firms, which could lead to espionage/surveillance like activities.
TikTok and other banned Chinese app given three weeks time
The government has given three weeks to the app owners to respond, failing which they may be permanently banned in India.
According to India Today’s report, the government has also been receiving inputs from Indian intelligence agencies and global cyber watchdogs regarding the background and the operations of these apps. Once the banned Chinese app owners send their response to the government, the later will match their response with the input received from the intelligence agencies. Any discrepancies may lead to the app being permanently banned in India.
Confirming that the company was trying to work on the response within “the stipulated timeframe”, a spokesperson from ByteDance, which owns the video-sharing app TikTok said: “As we consider the best path forward, ByteDance is evaluating changes to the corporate structures of its TikTok business. We will move forward with the best interests of our users, employees, artists, creators, partners and policymakers.”
Some reports have stated that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is also exploring the option of shifting their headquarters to the outside of China.
59 Chinese apps including TikTok banned by GOI
On June 29, the government ordered a ban on 59 Chinese apps, such as TikTok, Shareit, Helo, Xender, UC Browser, Shein, Club Factory, etc over security reasons in the midst of the Indo-China border tension. The government, in a statement, said that those apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.
All the 59 apps have now been removed from the Android and iOS app stores for the Indian market. On multiple occasions, even the US has hinted that it may move to restrict the apps.