GOVERNMENT OF INDIA DECIDES TO BLOCK 59 MOBILE APPS, MOSTLY CHINESE , CITING SECURITY CONCERNS

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GOVERNMENT OF INDIA DECIDES TO BLOCK 59 MOBILE APPS, MOSTLY CHINESE , CITING SECURITY CONCERNS

PRATHA  WAGHMARE

 

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • India’s unprecedented move following Galwan Valley clash
  • 59 mobile apps of Chinese origin banned by the Government of India
  • The list includes popular Chinese apps like TikTok, SHAREit, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi

 

The Centre has blocked 59 apps with Chinese links that included the hugely popular TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser, amid a huge economic backlash against China following the June 15 clashes at Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers died in action. Sources said inputs from intelligence agencies suggested that the apps have been violating the terms of usage, compromising users privacy, and being used as spyware or malware. Within minutes of the announcement, the Indian government’s TikTok account MyGov, which had 1.1 million followers, was disabled.

The move comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has given a “befitting response” to China. He also spoke of the countrywide call for a boycott of Chinese goods, juxtaposing it against the government’s “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” campaign. “We will buy local and be vocal for local and this will help India become stronger,” he said.

In a statement this evening, the government said the apps were blocked “in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.”

A government press release announcing the ban stated: “The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking it’s power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 59 apps since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.

 

The press release further said that the Ministry of Information Technology has received “many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding the security of data and risk to privacy relating to the operation of certain apps”.

The statement from the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology said it had received an “exhaustive recommendation” from the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The ministry said it also received representations from people on “security of data and risk to privacy” regarding certain apps.

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures. At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians,” said the release.

The move comes amid a countrywide call from traders and civil society to boycott Chinese products and services after the June 15 clashes. The government had chipped in with a bar on Chinese equipment for the 4G up-gradation of the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and sacking of a Chinese firm that had a Rs 471-crore railways contract.

“The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding the security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” the press release mentioned.

It further says that the move to ban these Chinese apps move will “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users”. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace, it said.

Chinese apps’ popularity deteriorated after Galwan clash

Earlier this month, data from the Finland-based mobile-ranking platform, AppFollow, indicated that applications like TikTok have borne the brunt of Indian anger over Ladakh tensions.

The popular short-form video app was ranked 5 in top-ten free applications on Apple’s platform in India before the May 5 scuffle between Indian and Chinese troops.

A month later, TikTok slipped down to number 10 on App Store.

Among Android users, the same Chinese application dropped from number 3 to number 5 in India ranking.

But it still remained on the list of top-ten popular apps in India.

India, not the only country to act against Chinese apps

The move to ban these Chinese apps predates violent faceoff at LAC in Ladakh. The government had issued an advisory on April 16 in this regard in the wake of security concerns over zoom meetings.

India is not the only country to act against Chinese apps citing privacy and cyber security issues. Taiwan has banned some Chinese apps. So has Germany including zoom.

Earlier, the US national security advisor Robert O’Brian had said all Chinese apps function as arms of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to further its ideological and geopolitical agendas.

The move was speeded up after June 15 clashes between Indian and Chinese troops.

Last week, the government also made the mention of the “Country of Origin” mandatory for sellers listing their products in the Government e-Marketplace — a move that’s expected to add to the odds against Chinese products. E-commerce companies including Amazon and Flipkart, have decided to follow suit.

Experts suggested that the ban on apps is a major blow to China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions, eroding millions of dollars from the valuation of its companies. This could also lead to more countries following India’s path in acting against these Apps.

“The Modi government shows its tremendous resolve and dexterity of engaging China on multiple fronts and hitting China where it hurts the most,” said a party source. “This is India’s first salvo to China after the border clashes, showing that India has a diverse range of retaliatory options,” he added.

 

Here is the full list of apps that have been banned:

  1. TikTok
  2. Shareit
  3. Kwai
  4. UC Browser
  5. Baidu map
  6. Shein
  7. Clash of Kings
  8. DU battery saver
  9. Helo
  10. Likee
  11. YouCam makeup
  12. Mi Community
  13. CM Browers
  14. Virus Cleaner
  15. APUS Browser
  16. ROMWE
  17. Club Factory
  18. News dog
  19. Beauty Plus
  20. WeChat
  21. UC News
  22. QQ Mail
  23. Weibo
  24. Xender
  25. QQ Music
  26. QQ Newsfeed
  27. Bigo Live
  28. SelfieCity
  29. Mail Master
  30. Parallel Space
  31. Mi Video Call — Xiaomi
  32. We Sync
  33. ES File Explorer
  34. Viva Video — QU Video Inc
  35. Meitu
  36. Vigo Video
  37. New Video Status
  38. DU Recorder
  39. Vault-Hide
  40. Cache Cleaner DU App studio
  41. DU Cleaner
  42. DU Browser
  43. Hago Play With New Friends
  44. Cam Scanner
  45. Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile
  46. Wonder Camera
  47. Photo Wonder
  48. QQ Player
  49. We Meet
  50. Sweet Selfie
  51. Baidu Translate
  52. Vmate
  53. QQ International
  54. QQ Security Center
  55. QQ Launcher
  56. U Video
  57. V fly Status Video
  58. Mobile Legends
  59. DU Privacy

 

 

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