TikTok reportedly wants to get back into India.
According to a report from Economic Times, the platform’s parent company, ByteDance, is in the “exploratory stage” of developing a partnership with Mumbai-headquartered realty developer Hiranandani Group.
India banned TikTok and nearly 60 other China-based apps in June 2020, calling them a “threat to sovereignty and integrity” and citing cybersecurity concerns similar to those expressed by U.S. lawmakers who dug Donald Trump’s abandoned attempt to eradicate TikTok from the States.
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India’s ousting at first seemed temporary, but was made permanent in January 2021, reportedly because officials believed ByteDance hadn’t done enough to address security issues.
At the time, the Indian government indicated it’d be up to continuing conversations with ByteDance and other companies, but ByteDance didn’t seem too keen, considering it laid off more than two-thirds of its 2,000+ Indian staffers a week after the ban became permanent.
Now, a senior Indian government official familiar with the matter told the Economic Times that while “there have been no formal talks with us yet […] we have been informed of the plans.”
“As and when they come to us for approvals, we will examine their request,” the official added.
A second official told the Times that the government’s ban was largely concerned with ByteDance storing user data outside of India.
Apps that are allowed to operate within India “have either made provisions to store data locally or are making necessary changes to their data storage and processing policies,” the official said, adding that if TikTok returns, it “will have to follow these norms.”
It makes sense, then, that TikTok is eyeing a hookup with the Hiranandani Group, because per Business Times India, the group runs data center operations under its Yotta Infrastructure Solutions arm, and earlier this year launched tech services arm Tez Platforms.
In apparent contradiction of Indian officials’ statements, ByteDance told the Economic Times it currently has no plans to resume operations in India.