TikTok denies plans for legal recourse against ban

Presently, the banned apps are planning to formally represent their concerns before Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, explaining who the benefactors for data they collect are

TikTok has denied any plans to explore legal avenues against ban imposed by the Government of India. The response came after media reports claimed that the video sharing platform is considering legal options to challenge government's ban in courts.

"There have been statements in the press concerning the possibility that TikTok might pursue legal action regarding the directive by the Government of India. We have no plans to pursue such action," a spokesperson from the company said. "We are committed to working with the government to address its concerns. We comply with the laws and regulations of the Government of India. Ensuring the data sovereignty, security and privacy of our users has always been and will continue to be a top priority for us."

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Meanwhile, Likee, another platform banned by the Centre, said that it respects the government's decision and has temporarily taken the app down. "The Government of India issued an interim order on June 29, 2020 to block 59 mobile apps, including Likee. We respect the Indian government's order and have temporarily taken off Likee from Google Play and App Store, and have suspended service in India until there is further clarity provided on this matter. To obey the government instruction, our R&D team worked around the clock to ensure the service shutdown," a company spokesperson said. "Likee is under the Singapore-based BIGO Technology and we hold utmost priority to the compliance of all local laws as well as the privacy and data security of all our users. We will be working closely with the Indian government under the local legal framework."

Indian government had banned 59 Chinese app, including ByteDance's TikTok and Helo, along with other popular titles like UC Browser, CamScanner and WeChat citing threat to country's sovereignty and security. Presently, these apps are planning to formally represent their concerns before Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). While some representations have been made, certain media reports quoted people familiar with the matter that a writ petition was the last resort for number of these apps if the ban is not lifted even after the representations.

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According to reports, MeitY is raising two concerns - firstly the need for sharing user data with Chinese government, how many times such requests were raised, and how many times were they complied with; and secondly lack of physical presence in India. China's laws require companies originating in the country to share user data, collected from across the world if requested by Chinese government or intelligence agencies.

The reports quoted a third lawyer, who represents multiple apps in the banned list, as saying that since the companies do not have any knowledge of what grounds the government has banned them on, they are considering sharing data flow diagrams, which explains who the benefactors for data they collect are. They may even submit to audits by companies empanelled by CERT-In.

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