Amid the border tensions between India and China, the Centre has decided to ban 59 Chinese applications. The Ministry of Information Technology in a media statement said that these apps were banned in the view of the emergent nature of threats and that as per information available, these apps are engaged in activities which are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”
The banned apps include Tik Tok, Shareit, Shein, Clash of Kings, Helo, Likee, Club Factory, Mi Community, UC Browser, CamScanner, among others.
At the time of writing, TikTok had over a billion downloads on Google’s Play Store, and Shein and Club Factory both had over 100 million downloads. As of June 19, TikTok was estimated to have over 120 million users in India.
This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users and the decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace, the government said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Information and Technology issued a statement that it had received many 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 unauthorized 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 government said in the statement.
The government added that it has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps.
The government has taken this decision 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.
“The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India. There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India's sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens,” the government added.
At the time of writing, these apps were still functional. It is unclear when the ban will be implemented.