Amid suspicions over subversive data gathering by Chinese apps, fresh trouble seems to be brewing—this time for Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, whose UC News and UC Browser were among the 59 apps recently banned in India. According to a Reuters report, a local court in Gurugram has issued summons for Alibaba, Ma and about a dozen others. This comes after a former employee of UC Web alleged that the company censored content seen as unfavourable to China and that UC Browser and UC News showcased false news “to cause social and political turmoil".
An inquiry would be able to establish the facts, and the law should apply. On a broader note, Chinese web companies with global ambitions need to realize that their operations can no longer escape scrutiny. So long as opacity over their links with powers in Beijing persists, they’ll be suspected of being geopolitical tools, or worse, Trojan horses. If their business is not to suffer globally, they must turn duly transparent. Content moderation policies and mechanisms should visibly adhere to local norms, for example, and access pathways to their data laid bare. Their actions will be under watch.