Govt asks 79 questions to TikTok, other banned apps. Permanent ban if no reply by July 22

Trouble is mounting for the 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, that were recently banned by the Indian government over privacy issues. The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has sent a notice and a list of 79 questions to these banned apps. The ministry has given them three weeks to respond, failing which these apps may be permanently banned in India.

The notice states that if these banned apps do not respond by July 22, the ban imposed on them would become permanent.

India Today TV has learnt that the ministry has been receiving inputs from Indian intelligence agencies and global cyber watchdogs on the background and operations of these apps.

Once the government receives response from these banned Chinese apps, their replies will be matched with the information received from intelligence agencies. Any discrepancy can lead to serious trouble for these apps, sources privy to the development said.

With this notice and the list of 79 questions, hopes of these Chinese apps making a comeback in near future have taken a hit.

The exhaustive list of 79 questions that has been sent to these Chinese apps seek details about their corporate origin, structure of parent companies, funding, data management, company practices and servers that are being used by them.

The government has asked these companies to furnish information regarding “unauthorised data access” by them, along with security features which can lead to misuse of data for espionage and surveillance activities.

Sources in the government said along with the questionnaire, the ministry notice states that “action against the apps was initiated under the Section 69 of the IT Act and powers vested with the Government of a sovereign nation.”

The replies from these companies will be forwarded to a special committee that has been set up to screen and adjudicate the matter.

Meanwhile, given the exhaustive nature of the questionnaire, chances of these app operators getting a direct hearing with the government against the ban too have faded.

TikTok and other Chinese app operators have maintained that security of data of users has been their supreme priority and that allegations of unauthorised use of data against them are unfounded.

In July last year, in a notice to several Chinese apps, including TikTok and Hello, the government had sent a list of 24 questions about allegations of misusing their platforms for “anti-India activities”.

The ministry has sought an assurance that the data of Indian users was/will not be transferred to any foreign government or any third party or private entity.

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