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Indian court summons Alibaba and Jack Ma over a complaint filed by former staff


An Indian court has summoned Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma over a complaint filed by a former employee of UCWeb for sacking him wrongfully for raising concerns against objectionable content on the UC ecosystem.

According to a Reuters report, Pushpandra Singh Parmar, who was a former associate director at the UC Web office until 2017 in Gurugram, has alleged that he was sacked after his objection on “censorship and fake news” on UC Browser and UC News.

UC Browser, UC News and 57 other apps were banned by the Indian government on June 29 after forces of India and China clashed at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

The company has also started winding up its operations and laid off a major chunk of its employees based in Gurugram.

The report also said that the employee, who also demanded $268,000 as compensation, alleged that the company used to restrict content which was unfavourable to China and both these apps were highlighting false news to cause “social and political turmoil”.

In a statement to Reuters, UC India said that “its policies are in compliance with local laws.” However, it did not comment further as the matter is sub judice.

According to the report, besides Jack Ma, Civil Judge Sonia Sheokand of a district court in Gurugram has also issued summons to individuals or company units to appear before the court on July 29. The judge has also sought written responses from Alibaba and its executives within 30 days.

Cropping up of such allegations against the UC ecosystem is not a new thing. Its browser UCWeb has always been notorious for sensational and cheeky headlines.

On the back of being the ‘by default browser’ in Chinese phones and clickbait content, UCWeb was the top mobile browser for over a year during 2016-17. At its peak, it had 130 million monthly active users (MAUs) and a 50% market share. 

However, it lost momentum because of a lack understanding of the local market and a coherent roadmap. While the UC ecosystem was banned last month along with the other China-linked apps, it was in bad shape in India for about two years. 

With the recent ban and back to back failures on the product front, UCWeb is unlikely to set up a team in India even when if the government lifts the ban. 

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