TikTok’s case against India ban dismissed – Govt

224 apps have been banned over concerns that they could affect India’s defence

The case filed by TikTok against its ban in India has been dismissed by the High Court of Telangana, the central government informed the Rajya Sabha today.

“Tiktok had approached Honorable High Court of Telangana on 20.07.2020 challenging the ban imposed by the Government of India. The court after detailed hearing disposed the matter in favor of Government of India,” it said, without going into details.

While the details of its plea and arguments in India are not known, the company also lodged a law suit in the US in August against the Trump administration’s move to ban the app in that country.

In it, the company relied on arguments such as the fact that most of its key personnel, including the CEO and Global Chief Security Officer, are based not Chinese nor are they based in China, and that user data was not stored in China. It also protested the imposition of the ban without giving it an opportunity to plead its case.

India banned the use of TikTok, a user-generated video-sharing app, and a number of other apps in late June, claiming that “in view of information available, they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” The list of banned apps was expanded later.

The first ban came close on the heels of an escalation in border tensions between India and China that has since resulted in the first firing incidents on the Indo-Chinese border in nearly four decades, as well as the deaths of dozens of soldiers on both sides.

However, there are questions being raised about the effectiveness of confining the ban to apps.

India is home to hundreds of millions of Chinese-made and Chinese-controlled smartphones and smart televisions, and concerns have been building among Indian IT security and defense experts that these could be leveraged by China to bring down India’s crucial infrastructure — such as its communication, defense, transportation, medical and government machinery — before an all-out attack on the country.

The Indian government is yet to act on the concerns about such China-controlled smartphones, and has confined its attention so far to the use of Chinese software on these smartphones, as evidenced by ban on 224 apps controlled by Chinese companies, including ByteDance, the maker of TikTok.

“These mobile applications were blocked in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State and defence of India,” Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state for electronics and IT said today.