Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism on Tuesday, following a tweet after the Central government put a ban on TikTok and 58 other apps that have been made in China.
“Modi to address us today. As we wait with bated breath, what to expect? Gloating about his ‘surgical strike’ on Chinese Apps? Banning Chinese Cos like Paytm? Banning Chinese food? Balcony se China ko gali do? Hamne COVID ko hara diya! Petrol sasta go gaya! or Sab Nehru ki den hai (sic),” Bhushan tweeted.
Modi to address us today. As we wait with bated breath,what to expect?
Gloating about his 'surgical strike' on Chinese Apps?
Banning Chinese Cos like Paytm?
Banning Chinese food?
Balcony se China ko gali do?
Hamne Covid ko hara diya!
Petrol sasta go gaya!or
Sab Nehru ki den hai
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 30, 2020
In an earlier tweet, Bhushan also made a jibe at the government for being ungrateful over TikTok’s contribution of Rs 30 crore to the PM-CARES fund.
Tik Tok's humble contribution of 30 Crores to humble Chaiwala's fund! So ungrateful! https://t.co/Ht5t22oJEI
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 30, 2020
As per a press note published by the government, their apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”. The notice adds that these apps had prosed many concerns including those regarding security and the safety of user data.
“There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens. On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet-enabled devices,” the notice explained.
Notably, Bhushan was one of of the first people to question how UIDAI was ‘breaching the right to privacy’ while putting out its rules about the Aadhaar card. He also questioned the Aarogya Setu app when it was introduced by the Central government to monitor the number of COVID-19 patients in the country. In a Facebook post, Bhushan wrote, “The compulsory use of Arogya Setu app for travelling by flights is illegal & a violation of the right to privacy.”
Bhushan’s criticism of the prime minister and the central government over the banning of Chinese apps versus his tirade against the UIDAI and the Aarogya Setu over the right of privacy has drawn a lot of criticism.
It was a donation. It wasn’t a bribe. But you wouldn’t know the difference.
Just like you wouldn’t know the hypocrisy of speaking against Aadhaar citing privacy concerns while having no issue with China amassing personal data of Indians through its apps. https://t.co/YZp5JmPRNo pic.twitter.com/6ZvCQcaUrT
— Ishita Yadav (@IshitaYadav) June 30, 2020
Which Whatsapp group did this 'return 30 crores' come from?
Probably the lamest hot take on this topic.
This guy was on the warpath about data security concerns for Aarogya Setu. No such concerns for TikTok. https://t.co/RPIMYHr5kf
— Pratyasha Rath (@pratyasharath) June 30, 2020
You want Modi to sell out for 30 Crores and continue to allow an app with a Million privacy concerns????
Sabko Prashant Bhushan samjha hai? https://t.co/MBbVfXGk2P
— Gappistan Radio (@GappistanRadio) June 30, 2020
Like Bhushan, there were a number of individuals on Twitter critical of the government. Given TikTok and other Chinese companies had donated to the Centre before they were banned, these critics demanded that the Centre return the money to China as well.
Chinese Companies donations to PMCARES Fund
Xiaomi: ₹10 Crore
Huawei: ₹7 Crore
One Plus: ₹1 Crore
Oppo: ₹1 Crore
TikTok: ₹30 Crore
— Dhruv Rathee 🇮🇳 (@dhruv_rathee) June 28, 2020
— saliltripathi (@saliltripathi) June 29, 2020
Notably, like TikTok, neither having an Aadhaar Card nor having the Aarogya Setu app is compulsory. However, unlike TikTok, not having the other two can be problematic, as this Quartz article explained. When the Supreme Court struck down that linking Aadhaar with everything was compulsory, there was a sigh of relief. However, you still need the Aadhaar card to link to your PAN number in order to file your income tax.
Similarly, if you aren’t travelling anywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need not have the Aarogya Setu app. This, however, changes if you’re returning from abroad or travelling from one part of India to another.
In comparison, TikTok was voluntarily downloaded by millions of Indians, aspiring to be content creators. This lack of a platform – despite its security flaws and the horribly cringeworthy content – is most likely to hit these individuals badly, given that they have gained national celebrity status because of the videos they have created.
While Bytedance – TikTok’s parent company is reportedly in talks with the Centre, it will only be a matter of time to see what holds for several Chinese apps that have taken over the Indian internet ecosystem.