NEW DELHI: China-owned social media app TikTok distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters.
In a letter to the Indian government dated Jun 28 and seen by Reuters on Friday (Jul 3), TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data nor would the company turn it over if asked.
TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba Group’s UC Browser, were banned in India this week following a border clash with China.
“I can confirm that the Chinese government has never made a request to us for the TikTok data of Indian users,” Mayer wrote, adding that data for Indian users is stored in servers in Singapore. “If we do ever receive such a request in the future, we would not comply.”
The letter was sent ahead of a likely meeting next week between the company and the government, one source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.
The company has committed to spend US$1 billion in the region.
Since its launch in 2017, it has become one of the fastest- growing social media apps. India is its largest market by user, followed by the United States.
In the letter, Mayer played up the company’s investment in the region, highlighting more than 3,500 direct and indirect employees and content available in 14 languages.
“The privacy of our users, and the security and sovereignty of India, are of utmost importance to us,” Mayer wrote. “We have already announced our plans to build a data centre in India.”
The correspondence was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and other media.