Politicians In India Look To Pull Plug On TikTok

TikTok on smartphone

Popular video-sharing app TikTok is being accused of spreading “indecent” content and sharing user data with the Chinese government, prompting politicians in India to call for its ban.

Concerns were raised after Mumbai police demanded a viral video posted on TikTok be removed because it allegedly spread religious hate speech, the Financial Times reported.

Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor joins a growing chorus of other senior politicians in India who have said the app spreads falsehoods and its growing expansion is a “threat to India and its democratic process.”

“Under the guise of freedom of speech, people are using apps like TikTok to spread fake news and malicious content. During Zero Hour in parliament, I called for the ban of TikTok and similar apps which pose a threat to India and its democratic process,” Galla said on Twitter the second week of July.

TikTok was downloaded over 250 million times just in 2018, making India the app’s biggest overseas market, according to data from SensorTower.

New rules concerning Chinese apps started being drafted in February 2019 by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and IT, according to reports. Apps with over 5 million users that rely on user content are now required to have a local office with senior executives in India to handle legal issues.

TikTok was recently in hot water in the U.S., having been fined $5.7 million by regulators for “illegally collecting data on children,” the Associated Press reported in March, noting the app was previously called Musical.ly.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the app violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires kid-oriented websites to get parents’ consent before collecting personal information from children under 13.

An economic lobbying group in India allied with India’s ruling BJP is also calling for a ban and is expected to send a letter to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In February 2019, the group said, “these apps are known for sharing the details of children and being an open ground for child pornography and possibly anti-national activities.”