TikTok Faces Renewed Pressure from Indian Regulators — But Is Another Ban Ahead?

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Photo Credit: TikTok

After spending two weeks banned from India, TikTok’s legal troubles may not be over.

The Indian Ministry of Electronics has sent some questions to ByteDance, which operates TikTok and Helo.

The Ministry wants to know what data the apps are collecting about its users, and whether that data is being stored in China. Other questions relate to how the developers ensure the information is not transferred “to a foreign government, third-party, or private entity.”

The Ministry says it will ban both apps in India again if the answers to these questions are not satisfactory.

Both TikTok and Helo have issued a joint statement about the questions.  Both apps have promised to collaborate with the Indian Ministry fully.  That statement also included a coded reminder of ByteDance’s commitment to investing in India.

“In line with our commitment to India, we are investing $1 billion in India over the next three years, with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure, establishing local partnerships and supporting initiatives such as the Skill India Program which we are proud to be assisting with already.”

Helo already has plans to establish an Indian data center for its users in the country.  ByteDance says it recognizes India’s efforts to protect the data of its citizens.

“We are now in the process of examining options for safe, secure and reliable services for our Indian users within India’s borders.”

TikTok has exploded in growth, partly thanks to its launch in India.  More than 200 million people use TikTok in the country, with the first ban serving to highlight the app.  ByteDance says that since its app launched in India, data on Indian users have been stored in the US and Singapore.

TikTok and Helo have both come under fire for potentially exposing children to predators. India banned TikTok back in April citing public safety concerns but lifted the ban a week later.

Helo has 50 million monthly active users in India and supports 14 Indian languages.  It is a social network for posting photos, similar to Instagram.