NEW DELHI: Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from the Chinese government after it was among 59 Chinese apps banned in India.
In a letter to the Indian government sent last week, TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked.
TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance and has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. It was among 59 Chinese apps, including Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba Group’s UC Browser 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.”
READ MORE: India bans 59 apps including TikTok over security concerns
The letter was sent ahead of a likely meeting next week between the company and the government. The ban is unlikely to be revoked soon as India has cited national security concerns for the ban.
The ban upset India’s growing legion of TikTok stars and has also given a lift to local rivals such as Roposo, which added 22 million new users within two hours after the ban took effect.
TikTok has committed to spend $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 users 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, adding they have already announced plans to build a data centre in India.