The government has already banned Alibaba group’s several applications like UC news and UC browser a few weeks back as tension in Indo-China border escalated.
Weeks after the incident a former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web filed a case against the company because the company was censoring news that did not favor the Chinese Government. He also inculpated the company of circulating false and tampered news to cause social and political turmoil.
The case of wrongful termination has been filed on the 20th of July in the district court of Haryana’s Gurugram district. After the ban of 59 applications, which were China-based, the government demanded written reports from all the affected companies on whether they were in any way associated with news tampering or censoring.
The court, which is hearing the case out, summoned their CEO Jack Ma and also mandated the presence of a dozen other individuals who holds senior positions within the company. Judge Sonia Sheokand also sought written responses from the company and the leadership that manages the UC browser and UC Web which should be submitted in 30 days. This being a civil suit, the company also has a provision to be present before the court through a lawyer.
The former employee, named Pushpandra Singh Parmar, also alleges that the company wrongfully terminated his contract after he had objected to the company’s involvement in censoring content and spreading fake news via these applications. UC Browser was a popular application in the Indian market. It shared 27% of the market only second to Google Chrome which controls a massive 63% share. Alibaba acquired UC Web in 2014 and it is now a major part of its web-based media and entertainment group.
Wechat merchants, a local Chinese media, reported that Wang Shuai, Alibaba partner and chairman of Alibaba’s marketing and public relations committee, confirmed that the organization has received the court notice. He also commented that the Indian Unit of the company is procedurally working on the issue.
Parmar also claimed Rs. 2 Crores (approx.) in damages. And the court has asked for the presence of the executives, including Jack Ma on the 29th of July. Although this is not the first time an Indian court has summoned a CEO of a multinational organization. In 2014, the CEO of Samsung was summoned by a Ghaziabad court in a cheating case of $1.4 million.
The petition contains certain specific allegations against the company. One of the most prominent among those was when someone tried to gain knowledge of certain details the computer-based program would highlight news or articles that suit the perspective of the Chinese. Atul Alwahat the advocate petitioner, in an interview with WION, shed some light on this matter, saying that more than 1550 content-specific words in both Hindi and English when typed by users would go through a filter system and computer programs that would not provide a neutral content against the searches.
When searches are made on these words the employees working on the back end would also get informed. He also stated that they would be asking for “stay of proceedings” so that the defending company, here Alibaba group, could not dissolve their assets in the country before a judgment is passed which will hurt his client’s human rights.
In these times of political instability between the countries after a clash in the shared border, these allegations if found true, are of serious and severe magnitude. UV India updated us on the matter by letting out a statement saying, “unwavering in its commitment to the India market and the welfare of its local employees, and its policies are in compliance with local laws. We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation”.