TikTok and Helo were among the 59 Chinese apps that were blocked by the government on June 29 over various charges, including for “engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
The company’s defence comes in response to a detailed questionnaire (over 70 questions) that the IT ministry had dashed off to the blocked Chinese apps, seeking many details on issues such as data management practices, unauthorised data access, security features, data processing and collection.
A spokesperson for TikTok said, “We have submitted our response to the government and are working with them to provide clarifications to allay the concerns they have. Throughout the duration of our operations, we have demonstrated unequivocal commitment to complying with local laws, including data privacy and security requirements.”
The government has formed a high-level committee to look into the response of the Chinese companies which would help it work out the future course of action, including a decision to have any face-to-face meeting or seek further details.
Sources told TOI that TikTok has emphasised that it has been a law-abiding entity in India, and was rather planning to grow its engagement by looking at local data servers. It has previously claimed that it used to save the data of Indians mainly on third-party servers in the US and Singapore. Its assurance on having local servers is seen as an attempt to build trust and confidence around its data-handling practices, one of the sources said.
The company has also said that it wants to set up an engineering centre in India that would work on global product and tech innovations.