Popular short video app TikTok has not shared Indian users’ data with any foreign government, nor has it used it to compromise the integrity of India, the company’s India head Nikhil Gandhi said in a blog post on July 29. “Even if we are requested [by a foreign government] to [share Indians’ data] in the future, we would not do so”, he claimed.
TikTok was among the 59 ‘Chinese’ apps that were banned in India, in June, over concerns of national security, and privacy. The ban had come amid heightened tensions between India and China at the border.
Gandhi also provided an update that TikTok has submitted its response to the government, and is in the process of providing clarifications to “allay the concerns” the government has. He did not specify when the company submitted its responses, and neither did he give any detail on what the responses were. On July 10, TikTok had told MediaNama that it had received a questionnaire from the IT Ministry.
Throughout the duration of its operations, TikTok demonstrated “unequivocal commitment to complying with local laws, including data privacy and security requirements”, Gandhi added.
In a meeting between a handful of members of India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, that took place earlier in July, the issue of banning the 59 ‘Chinese’ apps was extensively discussed. MediaNama had learnt that the Home Ministry had requested to ban the apps, and the IT Ministry implemented it.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is heading the Committee, asked the reason behind banning the apps at the meeting, but was told more questions could not be asked of MHA and MEITY than they were willing to answer since it was a national security issue.
Earlier in July, TikTok released its transparency report for the second half of 2019, and according to it, India had topped the charts in several metrics, including content removals, legal requests for user information, and government requests for content takedowns. In the second half of 2019, India made a total of 302 requests for user information, and a total of 30 requests to remove certain content from TikTok.