A week after banning 59 apps linked to China, the Centre has sent 77 questions to the companies behind the apps, including TikTok-owner ByteDance. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has given the companies three weeks to respond to questions such as if they censored content, worked on behalf of foreign governments or lobbied influencers, reported Reuters.
The Centre has informed the companies that "unspecified follow-up action would be taken", the report said citing sources. One theme of the questionnaire is whether content was censored after an attack last year carried out by a Pakistan-based militant group in Pulwama district in Kashmir. The attack killed at least 40 Indian police officers and heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. “In the aftermath of the Pulwama Attack of 2019, did the company/app censor content relating to the attack or its perpetrators?” the question reads.
One question seeks to investigate if company executives in India communicated with film stars, social media influencers or journalists to promote any content, even if the communication was not for commercial purposes. The companies have also been quizzed about advertisers, business structures, taxation practices and privacy policies.
The government also asked the app companies whether they had faced any investigation in the United States, European Union or elsewhere for surreptitiously harvesting user data.
Reportedly, TikTok is working to respond to the ministry’s queries. In the aftermath of the ban, the company had stated that it complied with all Indian laws, adding that users’ data security and privacy were its top priorities.
Other major apps banned by India include UC Browser, Shareit, Kwai and Clash of Kings, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.