TikTok has denied allegations of illegal data collection practices and said it abides by all local laws and regulations. In a statement, TikTok said privacy and security of users are its top priority. The video-sharing app is owned and operated by Chinese internet company ByteDance.
TikTok's statement came in response to senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor alleging in the Lok Sabha that TikTok was illegally collecting data and sending to China. Tharoor had described it as an issue of national security.
Tharoor said that there are reports that the Chinese government receives data from TikTok through the wholly state-owned China Telecom.
TikTok termed the allegations as "untrue" and said it abides by local laws and regulations in the markets where it operates. TikTok also clarified the Chinese government has no access to personal data of TikTok users nor does it have any existing partnership with China Telecom.
"These claims are simply untrue. The privacy and security of our users is a top priority for TikTok, and we abide by local laws and regulations in the markets where we operate," it said.
The statement further added that personal data of Indian users is stored in the US and Singapore at "industry-leading third-party data centres."
"TikTok does not operate in the People's Republic of China and their government has no access to TikTok users' data, nor does it have any existing partnership with China Telecom," TikTok added.
Tharoor had said he would like to draw the attention of the House to India's vulnerability to data leakage and surveillance due to the absence of a robust comprehensive data protection framework. Tharoor had also urged the government to introduce a comprehensive legal framework to shield the fundamental right to privacy.
"Recently, the federal regulators in the US slapped a fine of 5.7 million dollars on the social media app TikTok for illegally collecting data on children," Tharoor said.
Earlier, TikTok was briefly banned by the Madras High Court's Madurai bench over the concerns of "encouraging pornography" through its platform. The ban was later revoked and TikTok promised to improve the overall app experience and environment.
(With inputs from PTI)