In a sweeping move that may lead to legal challenges and further acrimony between India and China in digital space, the government has permanently banned 59 Chinese apps. These are believed to include top apps such as ByteDance’s TikTok, Baidu, We Chat, Alibaba’s UC Browser, shopping app Club Factory, Mi Video Call, and BIGO Live.
All the permanently banned apps had already been censured as part of the Centre’s unprecedented action against 267 apps (in various batches) since June-end last year.
The Centre had originally initiated action against these apps under Section 69A of the IT Act, accusing them of engaging in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
IT ministry not satisfied with cos’ response to govt’s queries
The permanent ban comes in after officials in the IT ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the companies to various queries raised by the government, including their data collection and data processing methods as well as those around data security and privacy.
Others believed to have been permanently banned include SHAREit, Likee, Weibo, and Xiaomi's Mi Community.
The government had started to squeeze the influence and sway of Chinese apps in India in view of the growing tensions (including on the border) between the two countries, especially as they were accused of misusing the data of Indian citizens and businesses, surveillance and engaging in anti-India activities.
Those ordered blocked in the previous rounds had been served notice by the IT ministry, and were asked to provide details with regard to their operations in India, their subscribers, their data collection and information processing practices, among other things.
The long list of questions also sought details about “unauthorised data access” by the Chinese companies to having weak security features leading to espionage/ surveillance through unauthorised data access Official sources said that the companies were served notice around the permanent ban last week on an individual basis.