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TikTok’s Relentless US Drama & What It Means For Its India Future

A three-member inter-ministry committee was supposed to hear the banned app and submit a report on the interim ban. 

Published
Tech and Auto
3 min read
Apart from India, the United States, Australia and even Pakistan have taken a hard stance on TikTok amidst growing geopolitical machinations.
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TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has applied for a technology export licence in China as it races to seal a deal with Oracle and Walmart that it hopes will end US government plans to ban its TikTok video-streaming app on security grounds.

TikTok’s United States saga has never been short of dramatic developments. While the company awaits licensing in China, it has also dragged the Trump administration to court over the proposed US ban.

The application, however, comes at a time when Beijing also launched on 19 September a mechanism enabling it to restrict foreign entities that it deems a threat to its sovereignty and security, reports Al Jazeera.

This development is seen as retaliation to US penalties against other Chinese companies, such as telecom giant Huawei.

China's new rules around tech exports mean ByteDance's sale of TikTok's US operations could need Beijing's approval, a Chinese trade expert told state media, a requirement that would complicate the forced and politically charged divestment.

On the same day, on 19 September, TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, filed a complaint in a federal court in US, challenging the Trump administration's recent moves to prevent the app from operating in the US.

The lawsuit marks the second time TikTok has challenged President Donald Trump's actions in court, bringing a high-stakes geopolitical fight over technology and trade into the US legal system.

Can TikTok Return to India With Conditions?

While TikTok plays out a protracted diplomatic and legal battle to stay afloat in the United States, question is will it be able to make a comeback in India?

Reports have suggested that TikTok may be allowed back in the country and the ban lifted with a mandate to store data of Indian users strictly within servers in India.

In the US, with TikTok’s sale to Walmart and Oracle and its restructuring as an American company, its data will be stored within the country.

Both US and India have expressed similar concerns over the app’s requirement as a Chinese company to share data of users with the Chinese government.

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The legislation at the heart of these concerns is China’s National Intelligence Law, which came into effect in July 2017. Within this controversial law, Article Seven stipulates that “any organisation or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work according to law.”

Given that the ban was an interim order, a special committee set up to hear the representatives of the apps was set up a day after 57 Chinese apps were banned on 29 June.

The committee, comprising the joint secretaries of the Union Ministries of Electronics & IT, Law and Home Affairs, was constituted under Rule 7 and 9 of the IT Rules within the IT Act.

This round of consultation and deliberation by the committee had to begin within 48 hours of passing the interim orders. The committee was supposed to submit a report to the secretary of the Union Electronics & IT Ministry, following which he would pass an order.

As per the IT Rules, if the Committee’s recommendations are not approved, the interim ban order would have to be revoked.

This leaves a window of return open to TikTok and other apps that face an interim ban. There has, however, been no update on the status of the report by the three-member committee or the action taken on its recommendations.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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