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Shashi Tharoor Claims TikTok Is a Way for China to Illegally Spy on India

The Congress MP is worried that India has a weak data protection network and is vulnerable to leakage and surveillance.

by Shamani Joshi
02 July 2019, 12:03pm

Photo via Shutterstock (left) and Wikimedia Commons (right)

In the same Rajya Sabha meeting where very few Members of Parliament (MP) showed up to discuss the country’s grave water crisis, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor raised an interesting issue. He said that the popular short-video making app TikTok may be a way for China to illegally collect data from India and said it was a matter of “national security”.

Speaking at the Zero Hour in Parliament, Tharoor made these claims also to draw the House’s attention towards India’s weak data protection framework and make MPs aware of how vulnerable the country is to data leakage and surveillance. According to PTI, he even pointed out how something similar had happened in the US and said, "Recently, the federal regulators in the US slapped a fine of 5.7 million dollars on the social media app TikTok for illegally collecting data on children.” He also claimed that there were reports of the Chinese government getting data from TikTok—the most downloaded app on iOS—through the wholly state-owned China Telecom.

The popular app that is also a massive global success story for China has been mired in controversy for quite some time now, and many are mulling over whether it should be banned altogether. However, TikTok has refuted Tharoor’s claim and put out a statement saying, "These claims are simply untrue. The privacy and security of our users is a top priority for TikTok, and we abide by local laws and regulations in the markets where we operate." They even said that the app does not operate in China and has no existing relationship with China Telecom. "Our Indian users' data is stored in the US and Singapore at industry-leading third-party data centres."

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