Centre Issues Notices to TikTok and Helo; Threatens to Ban Apps

The action comes after a complaint was filed by an RSS affiliate claiming that the platforms are being used for "anti-national activities".

New Delhi: The Centre has issued notices to social media platforms TikTok and Helo, along with a set of 21 questions, threatening to ban them if it does not receive an appropriate response, official sources said.

The action from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) follows a complaint filed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) to the prime minister, in which it alleged that the platforms are being used for “anti-national activities”.

Meity has sought a reply from the apps on the allegation that these platforms have become “a hub of anti-national activities”, and has sought assurance that the data of Indian users are not being transferred at present and will not be transferred in future also “to any other foreign government or any third party or private entity”, according to sources.

Also read: Madras High Court Wants Centre to Ban Video App TikTok

Meity has also sought a response on the initiative being taken to check fake news and steps being taken to be compliant under Indian laws.

The IT ministry has asked an explanation from Helo on the allegation that it has paid a huge sum to other media platforms for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on social media sites.

The ministry has also raised concern around the violation of child privacy, as the minimum age to utilise these platforms is 13 years. A person below age of 18 years is considered to be a child in India.

When contacted, TikTok and Helo in a joint statement said they have plans to invest $1 billion over the next three years to develop technology infrastructure. They also said the apps were grateful for the “immense support” given by India’s growing digital community.

“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,” the statement said.

India is one of the strongest market for TikTok and Helo.

“In line with our commitment to India, we are investing USD 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 statement said.