The government had issued notices to social media platforms Tiktok and Helo along with a long questionnaire covering a range of issues including unauthorized data sharing by the apps and the platforms turning into a hub for anti-national activities.
The Cyber Laws and e-Security wing of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Wednesday issued a stern notice to the operations of TikTok and Helo app platforms to respond to concerns that they were being used to commit anti-Indian and unlawful activities.
The ministry stated that “the concerns raised are serious in nature and needs a detailed explanation” from the app platforms. The ministry has asked the app makers to submit their response to the questions on or before 22nd July 2019, failing which government may take necessary action to ban these apps.
The list of questions seeks a response from both TikTok and Helo on whether they are collecting excessive data and the type of data that is being gathered in China too. The Government also asked that how could they assure the government of India that the data of Indian users will not be transferred to any other foreign government or any third party or a private entity in future.
The government also questioned the claims by the app makers that the data is stored in the US and Singapore only.
The ministry’s strong action comes after complaints received from some agencies and a letter written to the prime minister by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) in which it alleged that the platforms are being used for anti-national activities.
The IT ministry has asked explanation from Helo on claimed that it was paying Rs 7 crore for over 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms.”
The ministry has also raised concern around the violation of child privacy and entry age of 13 years being set by these platforms to enrol users while person below the age of 18 years is considered the child in India.
India is one of the strongest markets for TikTok and Helo.
The statement said, “In line with our commitment to India, we are investing USD 1 billion dollars in India over the next three years, with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure, establishing local partnerships and supporting initiatives such as the Skill India Program which we are proud to be assisting with already”.