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Indian court summons Alibaba founder Jack Ma over fake news and censorship

A judge summoned Ma after a former employee of Alibaba subsidiary UC News accused the company of spreading fake news and censoring news critical of China.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was summoned by an India court in Gurugram after a former employee claimed he was sacked by subsidiary UC Web for objecting to censorship and fake news on its apps. The summon comes as Chinese internet companies face mounting political pressure in India, Reuters reported first on July 26.

Pushpandra Singh Parmar, who was an associate director of UC Web and UC News from 2016 to 2017 according to his LinkedIn page, filed a case on July 20, alleging the company’s apps censored content unfriendly to China and hosted fake news.

The judge in Gurugram, a satellite city of India’s capital New Delhi, has already issued a summons for Alibaba, Jack Ma, and about a dozen individuals and company units, according to the Reuters report. The entities or their lawyers are required to appear in court on July 29 and submit written responses within 30 days.

In response, Wang Shuai, chairman of the marketing and public relations committee at Alibaba, confirmed the news on Sunday.

“UC India did get informed of this and is now handling the case by the process,” he said.

He also joked about the summon. “I’m not sure where Ma knows this or not,” he wrote on WeChat Moment.  “It’s very hard to find him after he retired.”

UC India said in a statement it had been “unwavering in its commitment to the Indian 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,” Reuters wrote.

Alibaba declined to comment when asked by KrASIA.

In early June, UC News was reportedly close to a shutdown in India due to its monetization struggle, KrASIA wrote. UCWeb also operates UC Browser and short video app Vmate in India, but the India ban on Chinese apps issued about one month ago affected all the three apps, which have already been taken down from Indian app stores.