10:46 | 26/01/2021 Print
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in new notices to the apps last week, has said their answers and clarifications following the ban were found to be inadequate. As a result, the temporary block has now been made permanent, Economictimes reported.
The government had banned 59 Chinese apps in June last year referring to them as being “prejudicial” to India’s sovereignty, integrity and national security. The list included TikTok, Helo, We Chat, Alibaba’s UC Browser and UC News, Shein, Club Factory, Likee, Bigo Live, Kwai, Clash of Kings and Cam Scanner besides others.
The apps were blocked under section 69 A of the Information Technology Act and relevant provisions under IT rules 2009.
On September 2, the government had banned 118 more apps and in November it blocked 43 new Chinese mobile apps in the country, including shopping website AliExpress. The list of banned Chinese apps so far also includes PUBG Mobile, Snack Video, Cam Card, WeWorkChina and WeDate.
An official familiar with the matter said the decision to impose a permanent ban is aimed at the 59 Chinese apps for now.
According to the statement shared by Tiktok, the company is evaluating the notice. "We are evaluating the notice and will respond to it as appropriate. TikTok was among the first companies to comply with the Government of India directive issued on June 29, 2020. We continually strive to comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns the government may have. Ensuring the privacy and security of all our users remains to be our topmost priority," says a TikTok spokesperson.
Photo: DNA India
These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities that are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. The decision has been taken in a bid to safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile users, said India.com.
“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” said the government.
Notably, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had received complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.
“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,” the statement issued by the ministry read.
The ban comes days after Indian intelligence agencies red flagged these Chinese apps over safety and privacy issues of users. The government needs to either block access to these apps or advise people to stop their use, according to the intel inputs, said the agencies.
The recommendations of the intelligence agencies have backing of the National Security Council Secretariat which determined that certain China-linked applications could be detrimental to the country’s security, said the report citing an unnamed government official.
Some apps on the banned list are widely popular among Indians. TikTok (one of the banned apps) has more than 100 million active users in India. TikTok was the only source of income for many users.
Besides, many of these apps such as UC News and others have offices and employees in India, hence following the ban, scores of jobs could be at stake.
The ban significantly narrows a top growth market for Chinese technology firms and may embolden other governments to shut them out.
For Beijing-based ByteDance, India has been the biggest driver of TikTok installs, accounting for 611 million downloads, or 30% of the total, according to SensorTower. Cutting off new users, and existing ones as they try to install updates, will sting its mooted valuation of $110 billion.
The company faces a similar backlash in the United States where lawmakers are also suspicious about Beijing’s access to consumer data.
*Also Read: Top 10 safest dating apps in 2021
|What are the alternatives and are they easy to find? |
Users of banned browsers or video apps may find it easier to shift to similar offerings from elsewhere. Chingari, a competitor from India to TikTok, saw its downloads soar from 1 lakh to 1 crore-plus on Google Play Store soon after the ban on Chinese apps was announced.
Users of some apps such as CamScanner may not be able to shift so easily. For example, it is not clear yet how say a pdf, or portable document format, created by a user via CamScanner a couple of years ago and backed up in Google Drive, could be transferred to another app such as the Adobe Scan or Microsoft Office Lens, unless individually downloaded and re-uploaded.
There are some alternative products such as the India-made Zoho Doc Scanner, which does offer users the option to import all files en masse from CamScanner.
Complete list of 267 Chinese apps banned in India (Source: Indiatvnews)
Note: Even though the government has banned 267 apps in India, the list above only includes 219 of them. This is because the government did not share the 47 clone versions of 59 apps that it banned earlier.
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