India begins questioning of owners of banned Chinese apps
Late last month, India's Information Technology Ministry banned 59 Chinese applications, deeming them "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order". Now, a report from Reuters has revealed that the country has started questioning the owners of these apps over their content moderation and probable censorship practices. Here's more about it.
According to people familiar with the matter, who spoke to Reuters, IT Ministry has sent a questionnaire to ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, and all other owners of banned Chinese applications. The document includes a series of 77 questions, which have to be answered within three weeks' time. These responses will be used by the government to take unspecified "follow-up action," they added.
Through the 77 questions, the Indian government has touched several key topics, including acting on the request of foreign governments for editing, promoting, or demoting any particular content. The country has also asked the companies if they had censored content related to last year's Pulwama terror attack or its perpetrators. In that attack, 40 Indian police officers were martyred, following which Indo-Pak tensions heightened.
Among other things, the government has asked if the executives from the companies made any contact with Bollywood stars and social media influencers to promote any content for non-commercial purposes. Plus, it also seeks to know about things like the companies' taxation practices, their privacy policies, advertising partners, business structures, and if they were under investigation for data-mining in other parts of the world.
In response to the questionnaire, TikTok has told Reuters that it is in the process of answering all the questions within the given time frame and is compliant with all Indian laws. Apart from that, none of the companies in question, including Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, and Xiaomi, have commented on the matter or confirmed when they plan to submit their responses.
India banned the Chinese apps following the deadly border clash with the neighboring country that left 20 Indian soldiers martyred. The ban, which was criticized by China, has created major problems for ByteDance; it has lost 3 of its main apps, including TikTok, and stands to lose $6 billion (more than the combined loss of all other blocked apps) due to the move.