Govt issues notice to Tiktok, Helo: Asks them to answer queries or face ban

Govt wants a response to the 'anti-national' allegations against these companies

TikTok ban: SC to hear plea challenging Madras HC order on April 15 Concerns over the content in the TikTok app have been raised | Wikimedia Commons

The government has issued notices to social media platforms TikTok and Helo, threatening to ban these apps if it does not receive appropriate responses to a set of 21 questions, official sources said.

The action from Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) follows complaint by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) to the Prime Minister, in which it alleged that the platforms are being used for anti-national activities.

When contacted, Tiktok and Helo in a joint statement said they have plans to invest USD 1 billion over the period of next three years to develop technology infrastructure and build local ties.

The MEITY ministry has sought reply from TikTok and Helo on the allegation that these platforms have become "a hub of anti-national activities", and has sought assurance that the data of Indian users are not being transferred at present and will not be transferred in future also "to any other foreign government or any third party or private entity", according to sources.

Meity has also sought a response on the initiative being taken to check fake news and steps being taken to be compliant under Indian laws.

The IT ministry has asked explanation from Helo on the allegation that it has paid a huge sum to other media platforms for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on social media sites.

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 below the age of 18 years (who are considered minors in India).

TikTok and Helo in the joint statement said that they are grateful for the immense support given by India's growing digital community.

"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," the statement said.

India is one of the strongest markets for TikTok and Helo.

"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," the statement said.