'No political influence from China': App majors seek review of ban

All 59 Chinese mobile apps, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo, were asked to submit their response to the ministry by July 29
After their mobile applications (apps) were banned in India on the grounds of national security breach, several Chinese firms have approached the Union government for a review of the decision while stating there was no political influence from China in their business.   

In their representation to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), some of the firms running popular apps said there was no interference of the Chinese government, adding they’re working for the development of the Indian economy and contributing to employment generation. 

All 59 Chinese mobile apps, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo, were asked to submit their response to the ministry by July 29. 

These apps were blocked amid rising tension between India and China, following clashes at the border since June. Earlier this week, India barred another 47 apps which were operating as lite variants of the banned 59 apps.   

Some of these companies have highlighted in their replies that their data security is robust and that data privacy policy is in place, according to people in the know. There’s no question of misusing or transmitting user data outside India, the companies have argued. 

The government, while imposing the ban, had said companies were engaged in activities that was prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order under 69A of the Information Technology Act.

“They have said they would continue to cooperate and make modification in their existing operations’ terms and conditions if required,” said a person privy to the submission by these firms. 

However, proposals like shifting servers to India and setting up headquarters outside China are not part of their representation, he pointed out.  

The representation covers the economic impact of the move and highlights the Chinese app companies’ contribution towards India’s economic growth and fulfillment of consumer demand, it is learnt. The Chinese industry replies were also emphatic on how entrepreneurs’ interest had been hit by the ban, according to the person quoted above.  

The response of these apps will be evaluated by a committee comprising officials from MeiTY, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Home Affairs. The panel may also raise questions on these companies’ physical presence in India. A majority of them have no local presence. 

The panel will give a personal hearing to the affected companies to understand their concerns before making its recommendations in each case, sources said. The final order from the competent authority will follow. “The aggrieved companies got a representation opportunity and the matter now should be expected to be decided on merits,’’ the source said. If the government is satisfied, the ban may be revoked for genuine apps. 

However, if there’s no merit in the clarifications, these firms can exercise the option of appeal against any adverse order either to the government or to any other regulatory authority.

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