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India made the highest number of requests for user information and content removal on short-video platform TikTok in the first half of 2019, ahead of countries like the US and Japan.

According to the company’s first transparency report, TikTok received 107 total requests (99 legal and 8 emergency) for 143 user accounts between January and June 2019 from India.

It added that 47 per cent of requests saw some information being produced.

In addition, TikTok received 11 government requests for 9 accounts, following which 8 accounts and 4 pieces of content were removed or restricted.

After India, the US made 79 total requests in the first half of 2019 (for 255 user accounts), of which 68 were legal and 11 were emergency requests. TikTok received six government requests in the US and total accounts specified stood at seven in the said period.

TikTok said like other tech companies, it was occasionally presented with requests from various official bodies, such as government agencies or law enforcement officials.

“These include requests to take down content deemed to be in violation of local laws, or to provide information related to accounts under certain defined circumstances, such as to assist in a criminal investigation or emergency request,” it added.

Over the past few years, global tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google have started bringing out transparency reports that share details on government and legal requests for user information.

TikTok said any such request it receives is reviewed for legal sufficiency, to determine whether, for example, the requesting entity is authorised to gather evidence in connection with a law enforcement investigation or to investigate an emergency involving imminent harm.

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TikTok also reviews content removal requests from governments closely and evaluates the specified content in accordance with its community guidelines and local laws, it added.

TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, is extremely popular among youngsters in India. However, it has had its share of troubles in the Indian market where it has 200 million users.

Last year, the Madras High Court had directed the Centre to ban TikTok app, saying it was evident from media reports that pornography and inappropriate content were made available through such mobile apps. The order was later lifted and the app was back on app stores.

Later, the Indian government issued notices to TikTok (and group company, Helo) along with a set of 24 questions regarding the alleged misuse of their platforms for “anti-national activities” in India. The company had responded to the notice. PTI SR MBI

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