Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, China-based ByteDance’s business in India may take a hit. After the Madra High Court passed an order banning ByteDance’s video sharing platform TikTok, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now looking to ban social networking platform Helo.
Citing BJP party workers, an ET report said that the workers from Delhi BJP’s social media cell are considering to send a fresh set of complaints to the Elections Commission today (April 5) asking the body to ban Helo in the country alleging China’s interference in Indian elections.
The report added that a lot of negative campaigns are being spread through the China-based social media application. They added that if the commission cannot control the services then the applications should be banned till the elections.
This speculation comes in right after the Madras High Court passed an order to ban TikTok saying that it exposes children to pornography, and makes them vulnerable to sexual predators online. A two-judge bench consisting of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar has directed the government to prohibit downloading of TikTok mobile app.
Currently, the government is studying the directions provided by the high court. Citing officials of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), a report says the order may be very difficult to implement. They also added that it would be more appropriate for the affected party to solve the matter than the government.
“As with any other social media platform, we harness digital advertising with the sole purpose of driving user growth. Out of all the ads that have been generated from Helo since we launched in June 2018, unique ads citing political mentions amount to less than .1%. These ads were all generated prior to the declaration of General Elections by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct,” Helo spokesperson said in response to Inc42’s enquiry.
Chinese Social Media Apps Under Scrutiny
Since Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Indian government has taken a strict stand on regulating the social media companies and restrict the spread of unlawful content through the widely popular applications.
In January, the government has now ruled that Chinese social media apps with more than 5 Mn users need to have an office in the country.
The ministry of electronics and IT had proposed rules for “intermediary” apps, those that rely on users to create their content. The rules also mandate that these companies need to have a senior executive in India who can be reached for any legal issues.
Post Pulwama terror attack, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic wing, Swadeshi Jagran Manch had written to prime minister Narendra Modi requesting a ban on Chinese social media apps, ecommerce companies and telecom equipment from operating in India.
Earlier in March, it was also reported that the central government is carefully studying the issues related to Chinese telecom gear makers after various countries have alleged that the Chinese have been looking to use their telecom equipment to breach global security.