TikTok received a questionnaire from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology “two days ago”, after the app was banned in India along with 58 other apps, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed to MediaNama. The company did not specify the deadline to submit its response to the government.
“We have received a communication from Ministry of Information and Technology and are working to respond to them within the stipulated time frame. We have been in compliance with the laws and regulations of the Government of India and will continue to cooperate, address their concerns and provide necessary clarification. Ensuring the data sovereignty, security and privacy of our users has always been and will continue to be a top priority for us.” — TikTok spokesperson
At this stage, it is not clear if the government expects three different responses from the ByteDance owned apps — TikTok, Helo and Vigo — or one response.
Access to 59 apps was blocked by the Indian government on June 29 under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act amid heightened tensions between India and China that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
It is understood that the questionnaire was sent out on July 8. All 59 apps that were banned by the government on July 29 have received this questionnaire, the Economic Times had reported. As per the ET report, the questionnaire has more than 50 questions about the financial structure of these companies, the beneficial owner, the country of incorporation, the parent company, board of directors and location of their data centres. As per the ET report, the government is considering blocking access to another 300 URLs but we have not been able to independently confirm this.
On Saturday, Reuters had reported that TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer had sent a letter dated June 28 to the Indian government that said that the Chinese government had never requested user data of Indians, and the company would not turn it over if asked. This suggests that some communication between the government and TikTok about how requests for user data from Chinese government are processed took place before the ban was announced on June 29. We have asked TikTok for information about this.
We have also reached out to other apps that have been banned for more information.