New Delhi: ByteDance-owned short video app TikTok had sought to distance itself from China in a letter to the Narendra Modi government just a day before India banned it along with 58 other Chinese apps, a Reuters report has said based on correspondence it accessed.
In his letter to the Modi government on 28 June, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer reportedly said that the Chinese government has never requested user data, and the company wouldn’t turn it over if asked.
“I can confirm that the Chinese government has never made a request to us for the TikTok data of Indian users,” the letter reportedly said, noting that Indian user data is stored in Singapore.
“If we do ever receive such a request in the future, we would not comply,” Mayer wrote, according to Reuters.
The American executive has been TikTok’s CEO since 1 June. He is also the chief operating officer of ByteDance.
The report said TikTok sent the letter ahead of a “likely” meeting with the government next week. It also cited an Indian government source to say that the ban is unlikely to be lifted any time soon. It added that legal challenges to the ban may not be successful as India has banned the app on the grounds of national security.
The move came as TikTok reportedly looks to distance itself from its Chinese roots and appear more global. The app is not available in China.
TikTok and China
ByteDance has a version of TikTok available in China called Douyin. The app is massively popular among Chinese users just like TikTok is overseas.
A TechCrunch report said in January that Douyin has 400 million daily active users in China.
Since its 2017 launch, TikTok has become one of the fastest growing social media apps, with India serving as its largest user base followed by the US. It had reached 2 billion downloads globally, counting 200 million users in India at the time of the ban.