NEW DELHI – Indian TikTok users awoke Tuesday to a notice from the popular short-video app saying the company was working to comply with an India government ban on dozens of Chinese apps amid a military standoff between the two countries.
While service in India was suspended, the ban was largely symbolic since the apps can’t be automatically erased from devices where they've already been downloaded. The move was a response to a border clash with China where 20 Indian soldiers died earlier this month, digital experts said.
“They want to send a message. This is a decision based on a geopolitical situation,” said digital rights activist Nikhil Pahwa.
Indian protesters have been calling for a boycott of Chinese goods since the June 15 confrontation in the remote Karakoram mountain border region.
Late Monday, the government said that it was banning 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, which is operated by Chinese internet firm Bytedance. It cited privacy concerns that it said pose a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.
The banned apps include some that enable TikTok users to add visual effects and music to their posts, as well as dating apps, privacy apps and multiplayer games.
India’s information technology ministry issued a statement saying it had received reports that mobile apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data."
The compilation of such data, and its mining and profiling by elements hostile to India is “a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement said.