June 30, 2020

Ban is tougher this time! Not easy for TikTok to make a comeback

The government on Tuesday hinted that the banned 59 Chinese apps may not make a comeback any time soon in the coming days. The app operators now have a 48-hour window to clarify to a committee of officials from the Home, Information Technology, Law, Information & Broadcasting ministries and CERT-in, the country’s internet domain security agency.  An enquiry would be held in which clarifications provided by app operators would be examined.

Earlier today TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi issued a statement countering the charges of siphoning of data, unauthorised use and posing a threat to sovereignty of the country, used to invoke laws of the land to block the app by the government. He said that TikTok, available in 14 Indian languages, is a source of livelihood for millions.

“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. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” Nikhil Gandhi said.

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

It’s not the first time that Tik Tok has been banned. A ban was earlier imposed on the app by Madras High Court. The Madurai bench had ordered a ban on TikTok as it noted that the app exposes children to pornography. However, the Supreme Court later refused to stay the order of Madras High Court to ban the Chinese video sharing platform.

Blocking is working

The government has already initiated measures to block these Chinese apps. Acting on the directions of the Home Ministry and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), global internet giant Google has removed these apps from its Google Play Store. This implies that Android users will not be able to download the apps. The other big mobile platform iOS operated by Apple has conveyed to the government that it is working to block the apps as some amount of coordination is needed with the US headquarters.

Multiple layers of restrictions

Beyond blocking future fresh downloads of the apps, the second layer of restriction will come in the form of prospective downloads of updates and patches which may make the apps redundant for existing users  MEITY is also coordinating with the department of telecommunication to create further roadblocks  for use of these apps in case of existing users

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom service providers (TSPs) to block flow of data for these apps. The same method was earlier used to block several foreign and pornography sites. Through this technology the flow of data for these apps would get blocked at the internet gateways.

On Monday evening, the government announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including popular apps such as TikTok, Shareit, Helo amid growing border tensions with China. The list also includes other commonly used apps such as UC Browser, Xender, SHAREit and Clean-master. Shopping portals such as Shein and Club Factory and gaming apps such as Clash of Kings have also made it to the list.

The notification issued by the government said it has banned 59 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. The government has disallowed the usage of these apps in both mobile and non-mobile internet enabled devices.

Also read: TikTok removed from Android, Apple play stores after govt ban on 59 Chinese apps

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