ByteDance, the Chinese firm that owns the controversial video-sharing app TikTok, announced that it plans to establish a data center in India. The company also owns the social networking app Helo which is quite popular in India. This data center will be used to store the data of Indian users within the country itself.
The decision comes after TikTok was criticized for sharing the data of Indian users with the Chinese government. Also, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) issued a notice to the company regarding the complaints from Indian MPs for unlawful activities being committed through the application. These claims were refuted by the company stating that it operates outside China with its data centers being located in the US and Singapore.
Despite all those assurances, TikTok has had a controversial run in India, ever since it came into limelight. In April this year, the app was banned in India by the Madras High Court, stating that the app was being used for spreading obscene content and potentially exposing children to sexual predators. However, this ban was lifted after ByteDance agreed to comply with Indian laws and take action to monitor and filter obscene content from the platform. Much of that filtering however, hasn’t completely happened yet.
The company has also said that it would be investing around $1 billion in Indian over the next few years. Regarding the establishment of a data center, ByteDance said, “We are now in the process of examining options for safe, secure and reliable services for our Indian users within India’s borders.”
The moves are clearly aimed at appeasing the Indian Government in order to stay away from bans that its apps have been facing, or are imminent of facing. Even though ByteDance’s services like TikTok and Helo have been controversial in India, the fact that the country is the company’s largest market can’t be denied. This has largely been the case with most Chinese apps and games, who are looking to garner instant virtality and user-base, something they don’t get too easily in their homeland, China. China’s restrictive stance on Internet and various censorship policies mean that most apps haev to be extremely bound in the content they or their users produce.
Bytedance claims that India has 120 million TikTok users and 20 million Helo users. Thus, the company has introduced features like Age Filters and Safety Centers in India to ensure that it has no problem operating within the country.
“We are looking forward to having a more active dialogue with relevant stakeholders and setting new benchmarks along the way,” the company said in a blog post commenting on its plan to set up a data center in India.