After India declared a sweeping ban on Chinese apps including TikTok, the company in an address to the Government of India disavowed claims that say it a tool of foreign intelligence for China.
On June 30th, the Government of India declared a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and other famous apps like the UC Browser, ShareIt, WeChat, citing threat to national security over the apps’ alleged sneaky nature. While India did not explicitly mention the ban was targeted to ‘Chinese’ apps, all the apps were so, and the ban came at a time nationalism in India pressuring to boycott China, in the aftermath of a bloody battle between the two nations, fought in Galwan Valley de facto border.
First reported by The Wall Street Journal, TikTok’s American CEO Kevin Mayer wrote to the Government of India, assuring that the Chinese government has never asked for data of its users, and nor the company would have complied with the request if it was made.
The letter sent to the Government of India on June 28, it revealed the TikTok Chief Executive disavowing any claims that call it Beijing’s tool of foreign intelligence.
“I can confirm that the Chinese government has never made a request to us for the TikTok data of Indian users. If we do ever receive such a request in the future, we would not comply,” Mayer wrote. He added data of the Indian users are stored in servers of Singapore.
“The privacy of our users, and the security and sovereignty of India, are of utmost importance to us. We have already announced our plans to build a data centre in India.”TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer via the Reuters
Reuters notes that the letter comes ahead of a possible meeting between TikTok and the Government of India (GOI) scheduled next week, according to sources of the news agency. TikTok is the global-version of China’s DouYin, both the apps owned by Chinese company ByteDance and the former is not available to mainland China users. ByteDance also owns other apps like Hello.
Since the app’s launch in 2017, in a matter of two-three years, it became massively popular in the world with India and the USA leading with the most number of users. In the letter to India, the company also upheld its commitment to the region, proclaiming the billions it has announced to pump in, and the thousands of employees TikTok has employed.
India cashes in
Meanwhile, TikTok is suspended, the Indian scene for similar apps is floating on cloud nine of opportunities created from the vacuum of the app’s over a billion user-base.
Homegrown TikTok alternatives like Mitron, Chingari, and Roposo has seen a spurt in downloads in the past few days. One app that reportedly cashed-in the absence of TikTok is the Bengaluru-based Roposo. According to reports, the app which has been around since 2014, registered over 22 million users within two days of the TikTok ban, the company’s founder told Reuters.
Roposo’s Google downloads skyrocketed to 80 million in two days from the pre-TikTok ban numbers of just 50 million, even after the app has been around since 2014. “In the last few days I’ve slept for a total of five hours, and it’s the same for our entire team,” Roposo founder Mayank Bhangadia told Reuters, adding that they are trying as much as possible to ensure the app experience stays smooth for the grown users.
A video-sharing app similar it TikTok is reportedly in the works by Zee Entertainment Enterprises called HiPi, which will be launched in the new two months, echoing Modi’s “Atma nirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-reliant India’ calls.
. @ZEE5India an Indian video-on-demand service run by the Essel Group, is also working to launch its short-video app HiPi in the next two months.— Aditi Shrivastava (@AditiS90) July 1, 2020
India’s ban on dozens of apps was criticized by China as ‘ambiguous’ and ‘far-fetched.’ Media reports from China suggest the ban could procure ByteDance – the parent company of the TikTok and other apps with a loss of up to $6 Billion (Rs. 42k).
Despite the severe blow, TikTok has confirmed in a media statement that the company will not approach India’s law enforcement. We have no plans to pursue such action,” a spokesperson from the company said.