TikTok and Helo, popular Chinese social media apps owned by internet based firm ByteDance, might soon be on their way out of India. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), has issued notices to the apps along with a set of 24 questions regarding the alleged misuse of their platforms for “anti-national activities” in country. If they do not submit appropriate responses by 22nd July, the centre may ban the apps.
This action comes after a complaint was filed by the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, to the Prime Minister, alleging that these platforms are being used for anti-national and illegal activities.
MeitY has raised the essential issue of the apps becoming “a hub of anti-national activities”. According to sources, the ministry has also sought assurance that the data of Indian users are not being transferred and will not be transferred in future “to any other foreign government or any third party or private entity”. The questions also include initiatives being taken by the TikTok and Helo apps to check fake news and steps being taken to be compliant under Indian laws.
Referring to the child privacy norms, the ministry also seeks to understand that why the minimum entry age of the TikTok app is fixed at 13 years when actually, the age of majority is 18 years in India. In furtherance to this, MeitY also wants to know if minors are prevented from watching content with “risk warning tag”. They also want to know details on the monitoring and removal of objectionable and obscene content on TikTok
The explanations being sought also include details on the excessive data collected by the Chinese apps and the employees and offices they have in India. The ministry has also asked for details of charges and outcome of investigation by the UK Information Commission against TikTok.
MeitY has also asked Helo to individually reply on allegations that it paid a huge sum for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media sites.
Tiktok and Helo meanwhile, have issued a joint statement highlighting that India is one of their strongest markets and they will thus, fully collaborate with the government to meet their obligations.
The joint statement by TikTok and Helo said, “Our continued success in India will not be possible without the support of our local community. We take our responsibilities to this community seriously and welcome this opportunity to fully collaborate with the Government to meet and exceed our obligations.”
That India is one of TikTok and Helo apps’ biggest market is known to all. However, these apps are having a huge influence on the minds of the minor teenagers with obscene, objectionable content and may also be responsible for anti-national activities. Just a few days ago, the TikTok account of the ‘07 group’ of Hasnain Khan, Mr Faisu and others, was suspended as they were inciting hate towards their fellow Indians. There may be several other accounts like that which are being used to corrupt the minds of the young and therefore the concerns of the Indian government must not go unaddressed.