The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Wednesday issued notice to TikTok and Helo app operators seeking response from them over concerns that people were using these apps to commit anti-Indian and unlawful activities.
A list of questions have been sent to both app operators by the Cyber Laws and e-Security wing of MeitY and the Ministry has also warned TikTok and Helo and if they will fail to submit appropriate response then the government may have to ban them or take action against them as per the relevant provisions of the IT Act and other laws.
The Ministry has sent the notice with a questionnaire covering several issues including unauthorised data sharing by the apps, the apps turning into a hub for anti-national activities and Helo App has apparently paid a large amount of money for putting several morphed political ads on other social media platforms.
The ministry has raised red flags over these concerns and has said in tis notice that "the concerns raised are serious in nature and needs a detailed explanation" from the app platforms. The ministry has stated in the letter that "a detailed list of questions is enclosed herewith. You are hereby called upon to submit your response to the questions on or before 22nd July, 2019, failing which government may take necessary action to ban these apps."
Meanwhile, TikTok and Helo have responded to the government and said, "We are grateful for the immense support given to us by India’s growing digital community. 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. 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."
TikTok and Helo have been asked by the government to submit their response to the questions on or before July 22, 2019, failing which action will be taken by the government to ban these apps.
The notice has been issued by the Ministry comes after it had received complaints from some agencies and a letter written to the prime minister by Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM). In the letter, the co-convener of SJM, Ashwani Mahajan, had urged PM Modi to ban TikTok and Helo, claiming that the two Chinese applications had become a hub for "anti-national" content.