After India decided to continue the ban on Chinese apps that it had put in place beginning June last year, a bunch of them are coming together and mulling to take the matter to the court.
These Chinese apps include short video giant TikTok, file transfer platform ShareIt, Alibaba’s browser UC Browser, Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, and cross-border e-commerce platform Club Factory, a report by local media Economic Times (ET) said.
In the second half of last year, India passed an order to block over 250 Chinese apps including TikTok, Vigo, Likee, and PUBG over cybersecurity concerns amidst the soaring tension with China over the border clashes. Last week, there was a fresh face-off between Indian and Chinese armed forces in the eastern Himalayas. However, on Monday, it was reported that the two countries held the ninth round of Corps Commander Level talks to de-escalate the situation.
India had asked the banned apps to share details of their tax filing and its practice of sharing user information with third parties. Last week, after reviewing their replies, India’s ministry of electronics and IT sent notices to some of these banned apps saying the ban order is going to continue.
According to industry experts who spoke with ET, these apps have no choice left now but to go to court.
“Earlier the apps didn’t want to antagonize the government by filing lawsuits but now they have no option left apart from exiting the India market altogether,” said the report quoting a lawyer who represents several Chinese apps.
The banned apps are also questioning the process followed by the Indian government which they claim did not allow for a hearing in-person, the report said.
The only other option left with the companies is to appeal in court. This is particularly true for TikTok, for which India was the biggest market before it was forced to shut down operations. The Chinese short video app giant had 120 million monthly active users and in the first half of 2020 the South Asian nation accounted for a total of 660 million all-time downloads of the total 2 billion global downloads.
Meanwhile, Chinese internet giant ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is finally starting to lay off Indian employees due to a bleak future in the country.
According to a TechCrunch report, ByteDance told its Indian employees today morning that it is reducing the size of its team in the country due to the government’s decision to retained the ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps.
The company, which currently employees over 2,000 people in India, said only critical jobs will be retained in the country. ByteDance said it was left with no choice since the Indian government has offered no clear direction on when TikTok could make a return in the country.
“It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2,000 plus employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce. We look forward to receiving the opportunity to relaunch TikTok and support the hundreds of millions of users, artists, storytellers, educators, and performers in India,” a TikTok spokesperson told TechCrunch.
In an internal memo, quoted by the TechCrunch report, TikTok CEO Vanessa Pappas and VP of Global Business Blake Chandlee, said, “We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived and that we would be able to resolve this quickly. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case.”
“Many of you have patiently waited to hear how this would play out, which has been very stressful. Thank you for your continued belief and trust in us,” they wrote.
It is not immediately clear how many employees will be impacted in the layoff.