India bans 59 China-linked apps

Amid tension brewing since the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in the Galwan Valley, India banned 59 apps with Chinese links including popular short video platform TikTok.

Other popular apps in one of the biggest sweeps against Chinese tech companies include SHAREIt, Cam Scanner, Helo, Likee, UC Browser, and WeChat, as well as apps from Xiaomi, India’s number one smartphone brand in terms of market share.

In its order, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technolgy stated that the 59 apps to be banned “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” And despite the ban being aimed squarely at China, the official press release mentions no particular country. The announcement cites reports from various sources” that the apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data” to unauthorised servers outside India. The ministry expressed concern over the compilation, mining and profiling of this data by “elements hostile to national security”.

The decision to ban these apps comes amid a strong anti-China sentiment in the country as social media and WhatsApp groups are flooded with campaigns encouraging Indians to boycott Chinese products, and specifically, to uninstall Chinese apps.

The biggest impact of the ban will be felt by the social media app, Tik-Tok, which has over 100 million active users in the country. It’s parent company ByteDance has over 500 employees in India – one of its biggest markets – with plans to double that head count this year. Being at the receiving end of bans isn’t new for the popular app, however. Last year Tik-Tok was banned for three weeks by the Madras High Court following a petition alleging that the app, which is popular among teenagers, was being used to spread pornographic content. TikTok was the number one trending topic on Twitter on Monday night shortly after the ban was announced.

Another trending app was PUBG Mobile (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), but for different reasons. Also developed in China by Tencent, the popular mobile game has been spared the ban, at least for now. 

No comments: