TikTok employees can still access Indian users data despite ban: Report

Mar 23, 2023 06:31 PM IST

TikTok employees can reportedly access a vast range of data of Indian users despite the China's app banned in the country since 2020, just after Galwan clash.

Despite China's app TikTok has been banned by Centre for around three years now, the employees of the short-video sharing platform and its Beijing-based parent, ByteDance can still access the personal data of Indian users, says a report from Forbes.

TikTok was banned in India on June 29, 2020. (Representative/Bloomberg)
TikTok was banned in India on June 29, 2020. (Representative/Bloomberg)

The report claims that anyone at the companies with simple access to their tools can retrieve and analyse specific information regarding previous TikTok users in India.

“I don’t think [Indians are] aware of how much of their data is exposed to China right now, even with the ban in place,” a current TikTok employee was quoted in the report. (Watch here: Why countries think TikTok is a national security threat)

It is to be noted that TikTok has closed its Indian office after firing all employees early this year.

According to the report, TikTok employees have one internal social mapping tool that can generate a list of any public or private user's closest TikTok contacts as well as personally identifiable information about them, and it still brings up TikTok profiles of Indian people.

The social media site had nearly 200 million Indian users before it was banned. Both TikTok and ByteDance have refused to acknowledge that they continue to use the data gathered from their previous users in India.

“We have steadfastly complied, and continue to remain in full compliance, with the Government of India order since it was implemented. All user data is subject to our robust internal policy controls surrounding access, retention, and deletion,” TikTok spokesperson Jason Grosse told Forbes.

TikTok ban in India

TikTok was among 59 mobile apps banned by Centre following the clash with Chinese forces in Galwan, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers. Union Minister for electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad declared the ban on June 29, 2020, calling it "India's digital strike" against China.

However, it is unclear in the order whether TikTok was asked to remove app data that was previously captured and stored.

ALSO READ: India to UK, TikTok banned in these countries; Pakistan blocked Chinese app 4 times!

TikTok has been under scrutiny by regulators from different countries, who have expressed concern about the application's use by Chinese authorities. United Kingdom recently prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices.

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