TikTok goes down in India, its biggest overseas market

Ruben Fields
July 1, 2020

On Monday, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps in the country that included TikTok, Cam Scanner, Shein, UC Browser, and others.

"With the ongoing geopolitical issue compounded with weaker macroeconomic climate and government thinking the reach to be a security threat has led to this decision of retaliating in a way which is easier and more effective".

"As the largest Indian Lifestyle Social App we will continue to ensure that the privacy and data of users will be protected and will remain within the boundaries of our nation". And that year, India's defence ministry asked all armed personnel and officers to uninstall 42 Chinese apps it classified as "spyware", according to media reports.

TikTok stands to lose a sizable chunk of its existing and potential users; in April, the app data research company SensorTower reported that India is the top source of downloads, making up almost a third of TikTok's over 2 billion installs. Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi also sells its products bundled with MI apps, many of which are also now banned.

Similarly, an app called Bolo Indya, which lets users create short videos saw over 100,000 new downloads in the last 12 hours.

The ban will affect millions of users in India.

"As China has shown, governments can indeed block apps-not just remove them from the app stores, which has already happened in India, so you can't install them afresh or upgrade an existing install", says tech policy expert Prasanto K Roy.

Many also referred to YouTuber Carry Minati's viral video titled "YouTube vs TikTok- The End", which took social media by storm and was ultimately taken down.

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The EU will also lift travel restrictions for Chinese residents on July 1, on the condition that Beijing reciprocates the action. USA neighbour Canada, as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay, were included without conditions on the list.

India is TikTok's biggest foreign market, with an estimated 120 million users.

"China is strongly concerned", Indian news agency ANI quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying on Tuesday.

In the years since it has launched in India, the app has become a platform for Indians of all ages and classes - from police constables to housewives - who dance, sing and perform for their followers.

Some Indian apps like ShareChat, a local language social media platform, welcomed the ban. BollywoodLife recently got in touch for an exclusive interview with Daisy Shah, who, along with being a popular actress in Bollywood news circles, also came to be known for her entertaining TikTok videos, and she rationally shed light on both the necessity of the ban along with those directly affected by it. "We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity", he said.

TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, told the BBC, it is "committed to working with the government to demonstrate our dedication to user security and our commitment to the country overall".

Others bemoaned the potential loss of jobs at the app companies' Indian offices.

He said that data security is a major concern and that more such measures will impact China's economy.

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