The Centre has given the banned 59 apps with Chinese links 48 hours to provide clarifications on key issues. The representatives from the company have been given time to appear before a government-constituted committee within the time to prove that the data of Indian users is not being sent to servers in China, various media reported citing official sources.
The committee will conduct a detailed inquiry into the data-sharing practices of these apps, including top social media platforms TikTok, Helo and WeChat. The firms will mainly be asked to clarify their data-sharing norms under a Chinese law that requires companies of Chinese origin to share data with that country’s intelligence agencies, irrespective of where they operate. Additionally, the government is expected to ask companies without a presence in India to appoint a local grievance officer.
Reportedly, officials from the ministry of home affairs, ministry of electronics & IT, ministry of information & broadcasting, and law & justice will be part of the panel, along with Sanjay Bahl, director general of CERT-In — India’s nodal agency for internet security.
Soon after TikTok was taken down from the app stores in India on Tuesday, the company had stated that it was invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications. “We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications. TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government. Further, if we are requested to in the future, we would not do so,” said Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India had said.
Club Factory, which is among the banned apps, said in a statement: “We comply with all data security norms and have not compromised with the security or privacy of any users… We have always been willing and continue to remain committed to working with the government to resolve any concerns.”
The government has already asked Google and Apple to remove the apps from their stores for users in India, and will issue similar instructions to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone, sources said. On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said “China was strongly concerned" by the app ban.
The Ministry of Information Technology blocked these apps by invoking its power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act and the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
“The ministry has decided to block 59 apps since, in view of information available, they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” said an official statement.