Alibaba and Jack Ma summoned by Indian court

Platform News: Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba

An Indian court has summoned Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma at a case where a former worker in India says that he was fired after objecting to that which he saw because fake and censorship news on business programs, documents seen by journalists revealed.

KEY POINTS:

  • Indian court summons Jack Ma and the company he founded based on a former employee’s complaint
  • The latest move in a game of international chess aimed at China and Chinese technology businesses

The situation includes weeks later India cited safety concerns in prohibiting Alibaba’s UC News, UC Browser along with 57 other Chinese programs after a struggle between both nations’ forces on their border.

Following the ban, which China has criticised, India sought written answers from all companies, including whether they censored content or acted for any foreign government.

In court filings dated July 20 and previously not reported, the former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web, Pushpandra Singh Parmar, alleges the company used to censor content seen as unfavourable to China and its apps UC Browser and UC News showcased false news”to induce political and social chaos”.

The judge has also sought written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days, according to the summons.

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UC India said in a statement it had been”unwavering in its dedication to the India market and the welfare of its regional workers, and its own policies are in compliance with local laws. We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation”.

Alibaba representatives did not respond to requests for comment from the Chinese company or on behalf of Jack Ma.

Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurugram until October 2017 and is seeking $268,000 in damages, referred journalists from our content partners at Reuters to his lawyer, Atul Ahlawat, who then declined to comment saying the matter was sub judice.

The court case is the latest hurdle for Alibaba in India after the Indian government’s app ban, following which UC Web has started laying off some staff in India.

Before the apps were banned, the UC Browser had been downloaded at least 689 million times in India, while UC News had 79.8 million downloads, most during 2017 and 2018, data from analytics firm Sensor Tower showed.

ALLEGATIONS IN COURT

India has said it banned the 59 apps after it received “credible inputs” that such apps posed a threat to India’s sovereignty. Its Information Technology minister said the decision was taken to safeguard citizens’ information and purchase.

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In more than 200 pages of court filings, composed by the news agency Reuters, former worker Parmar contained clippings of several articles showcased over the UC News app he alleged were fake.

One post from 2017 was headlined in Hindi:”2,000-rupee notes to be banned from midnight today”. The following headline of a 2018 post explained:”Just now: War broke out between India and Pakistan” and contained description of firing across the disputed border between the countries.

We could not confirm the veracity of the claims from the court filing. India didn’t prohibit its 2,000-rupee currency notice and no war occurred between India and Pakistan in 2018.

The lawsuit also includes a”sensitive words list” with keywords from Hindi and English like”India-China border” and”Sino-India war” the court filing alleges were used by UC Web to conjure articles on its platforms in India.

“In order to control any news related content to be published against China was automatically/manually rejected by an audit system evolved for this purpose,” the filing said.

The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi and also China’s foreign ministry in Beijing, as well as India’s IT ministry at New Delhi, did not respond to requests for comment.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Alibaba and Jack Ma summoned by Indian court‘ article. Initial reporting via our content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi. Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing. Editing by Robert Birsel.

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