TikTok is spending $100 million to protect its biggest market

  • TikTok is planning to invest $100 million to build a data center in India.
  • It is a part of Bytedance’s plan to invest $1 billion in India over the next three years.
  • The announcement comes after the Indian government sent a questionnaire to TikTok and Helo, both owned Bytednace, over their data storage and collection practices in the country.
Despite calls to ban TikTok, the Chinese short video sharing app, in India — the company is investing another $100 million to set up its own data center in the country.

It’s only one part of the $1 billion investment that Bytedance, Tiktok’s publisher, has planned for India over the next three years.

In good faith

This is a pre-emptive move to show good faith in lieu of India’s Personal Data Protection Bill that’s currently in the works. The Bill is expected to be tabled in the Parliament this year.

"As a testimony to ByteDance's recognition of India's efforts to frame a new data protection legislation, we are taking a significant step towards establishing a data centre in India," said Bytedance, which also owns the social media platform Helo.

Last week, the government sent questionnaires to both TikTok and Helo over the collection and storage of data, from Indian users.

$100 million for the government to trust Bytedance

Setting up a data center in India would go a long way to allay any concerns that the Indian government may have about the app, spying on its users.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has sought response from operators of TikTok and Helo on various issues---including asking ByteDance if it is considering storing data in India. It also sought information on the measures they were taking to protect users below 18 years, from potentially dangerous content.

The social media platforms must reply by today, or face a ban. And, looks like it has already answered one of its main questions, with the investment.

The MeitY sent notice to the operators on July 17 after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) arm Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) sent a letter to the Prime Minister alleging that these social media platforms were being used for anti-national activities.

"We are now in the process of examining options for safe, secure and reliable services for our Indian users within Indian borders," Byetedance stated.

It may take ByteDance 6-18 months to set up the data centre at a cost of $100 million, according to IANS.

TikTok’s biggest market

With over 200 million users, India is the biggest market for TikTok, where it has also courted several controversies over the past few months.

"Since the launch of our platforms in India, we have stored our Indian users' data at industry-leading third-party data centres in the US and Singapore. We believe the time has come to take the next big leap," ByteDance said.

The Ministry has also asked what user data in India was being collected by these platforms. It was also asked the rationale behind the minimum age limit (13) to use TikTok in India when "a person below 18 is considered as child in the country".

In a statement shared with Business Insider India, TikTok said that it welcomed the "opportunity to collaborate with the government to meet and exceed our obligations".

In April, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok, citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted.

ByteDance now has a portfolio of applications available in over 150 markets and 75 languages.

(With IANS inputs)

See also:
TikTok users in India are even breaking the law in a bid to go viral

An Indian court has banned TikTok for ‘encouraging pornography’

A fresh wave of bad news haunts TikTok
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