The government has issued notices to popular apps TikTok and Helo over allegations that the platforms were being used for anti-national activities. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has asked the companies to answer a set of 21 questions regarding this or face a ban otherwise.
The action was taken after Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had complained to the Prime Minister about the apps. They had raised serious allegations that both apps were being used for anti-national activities. The companies have been given time until 22nd July 2019 to respond to the allegations.
Besides this MeitY has also sought an assurance that the data of Indian users were not being transferred and will not be transferred in future also to any other foreign government or any third party or private entity
The ministry has also asked about the steps taken by both companies to keep a check on fake news as per the Indian laws. They have also sought an explanation from Helo on allegations that it has paid a huge sum to other media platforms for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on social media sites.
Both companies have issued a joint statement. A spokesperson said, “India is one of our strongest markets and we are happy to be part of the mainframe of Digital India in 15 Indian languages. In line with our commitment to India, we are investing $1 billion dollars 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”.
The companies have also promised to cooperate with the government. The spokesperson further said, “our continued success in India will not be possible without the support of our local community. We take our responsibilities to this community seriously and welcome this opportunity to fully collaborate with the Government to meet and exceed our obligations”.
In February, a Tamil Nadu minister had sought a ban on the TikTok ban, claiming that it damages Indian culture. In April, the Madras HC had ordered an interim ban on the app for after it was found the app hosted pornographic content. Following this, the government had ordered Google and Apple to remove the app from the stores. However, the ban was lifted later as India didn’t have legislation to take care of matters related to children’s cybersecurity.
Recently, the Mumbai Police cyber cell has registered a complaint against a group of TikTok ‘influencers’ who had propagated revenge over Tabrez Ansari’s death. After threatening to unleash violence against Hindus, abusive actor Ajaz Khan later resorted to taunting Mumbai Police after they filed an FIR against TikTok ‘influencers’. Today he was arrested to by police for his video.
TikTok is a popular video-sharing app that lets users make short videos and share them on the app which is available on smartphone platforms. Most people use it to make and share lip-sync, comedy and talent videos, but recently some people have started to post political messages on the app. Helo is a social app which lets users to share videos, images, quotes etc.