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Chinese app ban: ByteDance employees in India unlikely to get impacted

The company, which has 2,000 odd employees in India, is awaiting clarification from the Indian government.

July 01, 2020 / 03:00 PM IST

The Indian government's ban on 59 Chinese mobile applications is unlikely to impact the 2,000 employees of ByteDance in India.

Sources told Moneycontrol that the company is not laying off people even as it is meeting government authorities to present their clarifications.

There were fears of job cuts in the India business of ByteDance soon after the ban on Chinese applications was announced on June 29. Employees work in the areas of technology, content strategy and communications in India.

The Ministry of Information Technology, on June 29, banned 59 mobile apps, saying they are engaged in activities which are "prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. This included short-video platform TikTok which is owned by ByteDance.

In response to a query by Moneycontrol, Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India had said the company has been invited to meet government stakeholders concerned for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.

He added that TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of its users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government.

However, the company did not respond to questions seeking information about the employees and their future after the ban.

TikTok has about 200 million users and several Indian individuals depend on the platform for their livelihood. By uploading short videos, individuals are able to secure sponsorships and brand endorsements. Brands have used this platform and popular users to showcase their products.

Gandhi explained that TikTok has democratised the internet by making it available in 14 Indian languages, with artists, story-tellers, educators and performers depending on it for their livelihood, many of whom are first-time internet users.

Apart from TikTok, shopping applications like Club Factory and Shein have also been banned in India. Here, Club Factory employs about 85-90 people while Shein employs about 45-50 people.

"It will be a knee-jerk reaction to sack the Indian employees. Since the government has called these platforms to seek clarification, it is likely that some mid-way could be reached. We see no impact on Indian employees as of now," said a Delhi-based hiring consultant who has helped app-based Chinese players recruit talent in India.

These applications have been removed from the Google application store and are no longer working on user phones where they have been installed prior to the ban.

Sources said that only after the meeting with the Indian government on the ban issue will the staff-related future decisions will be taken.

This is not the first time that TikTok has been banned in India. In the first week of April 2019, TikTok was banned after the Madras High Court asked for a ban saying that the platform encouraged pornography. This ban was lifted by the end of April 2019 on the condition that the platform would not allow obscene videos.

M Saraswathy
M Saraswathy
first published: Jul 1, 2020 02:59 pm