TikTok faces new round of scrutiny in India with IT ministry’s query

By Tony Xu
1 min read
Screenshot of TikTok’s official website. (Image credit: TikTok)

India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT has requested short video app TikTok respond to a query containing 24 questions about content quality, data privacy, and age restrictions, The Times of India reported.

Why it matters: While the company’s responses are unlikely to singlehandedly change the regulatory environment in one of TikTok’s largest markets, TikTok’s actions to rectify some of the government’s most pressing concerns could help dispel some of the suspicions it has toward the platform.

  • In April, the app was banned for two weeks for encouraging pornography and exposing children to predators.
  • Two weeks ago, a Hindu nationalist group and two Indian parliamentarians called for a ban on the app for spreading “malicious content” and not protecting user privacy.

“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… We take our responsibilities to this community seriously and welcome this opportunity to fully collaborate with the [Indian] Government to meet and exceed our obligations.”

—TikTok in a statement sent to TechNode

Details: The IT Ministry demanded that TikTok respond to the list of questions by July 22.

  • The government asked TikTok to explain the reported anti-national and illegal activities on the platform.
  • The list included a request for a list of preventive measures the platform has taken to guard against obscene content.
  • The Indian government also wants TikTok to confirm that the data collected in India is stored only in the US and Singapore, and won’t be transferred to other foreign governments or any third parties.

Context: TikTok was removed from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for two weeks after it was banned by an Indian state court in April. The ban cost the app more than 15 million first-time users, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.