TikTok, Helo say will comply with India ban, not sending data to China

Published: Jun 30, 2020, 12:30 pm IST

New Delhi: Chinese short-video making app TikTok and vernacular social networking platform Helo who have millions of users in India on Tuesday said they are in the process of complying with the government order to ban 59 Chinese apps and are not sharing any data of Indian users with the Chinese government.

The government on Monday banned apps like TikTok, SHAREit, Helo, WeChat, UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns as India-China bilateral relations remain strained after the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese PLA troops in eastern Ladakh.

“The government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it,” said Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok India, adding that the company has 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 have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government,” Gandhi explained.

A Helo spokesperson told IANS that they are also in the process of complying with the government order.

“We are working with the key stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications. Helo continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law,” the spokesperson added.

The mobile messaging app Helo is available in 14 languages, including Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam.

TikTok and Helo, both owned by Chinese content giant ByteDance, disappeared from both Google Play Store and Apple App Store on Tuesday. There was no official communication from Google or Apple on the removal from their respective stores.

TikTok had nearly 119 million active users in India and was among the top 10 apps on Google Play store and Apple App store.

However, other banned apps like Alibaba Group’s UC Browser and UC News, Xiaomi’s Mi community, Tencent-owned WeChat, e-commerce platform Club Factory and document scanning app CamScanner were still available on the platforms for download.

Users who have the TikTok or Helo app on their mobile phone can still use them.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued a list of 59 Chinese apps that are now banned in the country.

“There is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” read a MeitY statement.

The ministry received complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.

The MeitY said the move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile users.

Other Chinese apps in the banned list are Club Factory, CamScanner, Shein, Likee, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), Weibo, Baidu, Bigo Live and others.

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