The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) to keep a close watch on the functioning of popular Chinese app TikTok, Economic Times reported. This comes in the wake of complaints against the app in India and around the world, people familiar with the matter said.
PMO’s direction to MeitY earlier this week came after the nodal ministry had said the app was in compliance with all requirements. MeitY has also sent TikTok’s detailed explanation to the PMO regarding safety of user data, the company’s adherence with the laws of the land, the removal of 6 million objectionable videos from Indian users and plans to invest USD 1 billion in the country, ET reported.
MeitY has said in its letter to the PMO that it has appointed a grievance officer operating out of India. “In our view, TikTok meets the requirements of the intermediary rules including traceability requirements proposed in the recent draft amendments to the intermediary guidelines 2018.”
Once the intermediary guidelines come into play, it will be easier to keep a check on not just TikTok but other apps such as WhatsApp, MeitY officials said.
Several members of parliament had highlighted issues with TikTok including the USD 5.7 million fine levied on the app by the US Federal Trade Commission for collecting information on minors. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) had also raised concerns regarding the app with the PM.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, had responded on how it was tackling issues of safety, data privacy and objectionable content. A person familiar with ByteDance’s response to the government told ET, “They have even highlighted how they are the only social media app which has an Age Gate, a feature which allows parents to control the app, (mitigate) risk and (offer) a warning tag. Neither Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram or even homegrown ShareChat have these features.”