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After ban, TikTok says it does not share data with Chinese govt

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TikTok, one of the 59 mobile applications ordered to be blocked by the central government, on Tuesday insisted that it did not pass on any information about its users to any foreign government including the Chinese government and would not do so in the future too.

In a statement that came hours after the government announced the ban on 59 mobile and web applications, TikTok India’s head Nikhil Gandhi said the company had been invited to meet with government stakeholders concerned “to respond and submit clarifications”.

The banned applications have been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for India. The applications banned by the government include Club Factory, SHAREit, Likee, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), Weibo, Baidu and Bigo Live.

“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,” Gandhi said.

“Further, if we are requested to in the future, we would not do so. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” he added.

The information technology ministry, which issued Monday evening’s ban order, had cited concerns that the 59 applications are ‘prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order’.

The IT ministry statement did not identify the 59 applications to be linked to China. But government officials have pointed that the China connection was one common factor between most of the applications that had been ordered to be blocked.

Monday’s order came against the backdrop of heightened tensions between India and China over the border dispute in Ladakh that led to the deadly June 15 confrontation in Galwan Valley. Home Minister Amit Shah had powered the decision that had been under discussion for weeks within the bureaucracy.

The National Security Council Secretariat, which had been involved in the deliberations after intelligence agencies raised a red flag over the applications, had also backed the move.

Tuesday morning’s statement by TikTok, however, indicated that the company still believed that it had a fighting chance to make a comeback. It described the government ban as an “interim order” and underlined the role that it said TikTok had played.

“TikTok has democratised the internet by making it available in 14 Indian languages, with hundreds of million of users, artists, storytellers, educators and performers depending on it for their livelihood, many of whom are first time internet users,” the statement from TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said.

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