ByteDance leans on lobby cushion to save its Indian business


Chinese technology firm Bytedanace, which owns popular apps TikTok and Helo, has been lobbying the Indian Government to save its Indian market after coming under fire for its unbridled content in the country.

The Chinese company has for the purpose roped in Apurva Mehta, who was the legal counsel and director, government affairs at Qualcomm for India & South Asia, Sandhya Sharma a former employee of Mastercard and Rahul Jain to take care of its relation, policy, and legal initiative. And it plans to hire a chief nodal officer, based out of India, soon.

Bytedance-owned apps have come under heavy scrutiny for their content, which govt described as risky and criminal.

Last week, the Indian Ministry of electronics and IT (MeiTY) proposed that any Chinese platforms that have more than 5 million users will require to set up a local office and appoint senior executive, who could be held responsible, in India.

These platforms are asked to establish automated tools to identify and remove unlawful information or content.

Tamil Nadu Information Technology minister M Manikandan, alleging to degrade culture and encourage pornography, has also sought a ban on its app TikTok.

We will soon seek a ban on TikTok, just like the ban on the Blue Whale game by the Centre, the minister had said in the parliament.

However, TikTok has maintained that the company is committed to respecting local laws and regulations.

Both the apps of Bytedance have gained much popularity in India. TikTok allows users to upload and view lip-synced videos, music and other performances. In India, it is largely used by people to enact popular videos or film scenes and share their own versions of it.

As per the last year report, TikTok had 150 million daily and 500 million monthly active users. TikTok was the number 1 app installed worldwide in 2018, according to SensorTower data.

The downloads of the app increase nearly 25x during Dec 2017-2018, from 1.3 million to 32.3 million, said an ET report.

It claims to have 39 per cent of its 500 million global users in India. Whereas Helo has 25 million MAUs and they aim to have 75 million MAUs by the end of 2019.

This is not the first time, that these apps have been facing heat from the governments. Chinese video apps came under fire in the USA, UK, Hong Kong, and Indonesia for its unbridle content.

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