With TikTok, Helo under fire, ByteDance plans India data centres

With TikTok, Helo under fire, ByteDance plans India data centres

ByteDance, the parent company of video-sharing app TikTok and Helo, issued a statement saying it is examining options to set up data centres in India to store the data of its Indian users. This comes after the two apps were sent a series of queries around data collection and storage by the cyber laws and e-security arm of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

“As a testimony to ByteDance’s recognition of India’s efforts to frame a new data protection legislation, we are pleased to announce that we are taking a significant step towards establishing a data centre in India,” ByteDance said in a statement.

Earlier, TikTok and Helo in a joint statement said that India is one of their strongest markets and they will fully collaborate with the government to meet their obligations.

There has also been increasing pressure on other large social media firms — like Facebook and Twitter — most of which store user data in the US, to set up local data centres in India. The proposed Personal Data Protection Bill, which will clarify the Indian stand on this issue, is yet to be tabled in the Parliament.

The Indian government warned that if TikTok and Helo fail to respond by July 22, they may face serious actions, which may include a ban.

ByteDance clarified that it had been storing the data of the Indian users at third-party data centres in the US and Singapore since the launch of its platforms in India and it will now examine the options for “safe, secure and reliable services for our Indian users within India’s borders”.

The Bejing-based company said that in line with this effort, ByteDance is looking forward to having a more active dialogue with relevant stakeholders. The company had earlier announced its plan to invest $1 billion in India over the next three years with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure and establishing local partnerships.

The move to set up data centres in the country will most likely be part of this plan. In its statement, ByteDance said, “This is in line with our constant endeavour to ensure that we have the best interests of our local users at heart. We now believe that the time has come to take the next big leap.”