The Government of India has banned 59 Chinese mobile applications, including top social media platforms like TikTok, Helo, and WeChat, to counter the threat posed by these applications to the country’s “sovereignty and security”.
ShareIT, UC browser, and shopping app Club Factory are among the opposite prominent apps that are blocked amid rising tensions between India and China following clashes at the border fortnight ago.
India is China’s biggest external marketplace for apps like TikTok and UC Browser. While India represents a comparatively small source of revenue for Chinese apps, it’s still its fastest-growing major market. As Indians grow richer, average revenues per user will increase: India’s digital advertising market is anticipated to grow by 26 percent this year, CNN reports. New Delhi’s actions close off this market. There is also further action on other Chinese software and hardware, especially 5G products, as Indians become more attentive to the potential security threats of Chinese technology.
Just on, as an example, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission officially designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, effectively barring U.S. internet providers from using federal subsidies to shop for their equipment.
In an announcement, the govt. said the applications are engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” The ban has been imposed under Section 69A of the knowledge Technology Act read with relevant provisions of the data Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of data by Public) Rules 2009, it said. The government also cited complaints about data on Indian users being transferred abroad without authorization.
China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions
The move could come as a blow to China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions, eroding the valuation of the businesses. It could also result in more countries following India’s cue and acting against these apps, sources told ET.
A top official said the govt. had considered all aspects before making the choice. “These apps are there for a protracted time, and there are some privacy and security issues with them including risks of information going out of the country,” said the person
The statement from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said it had received complaints from various sources, including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers outside India.
“The compilation of the information, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, could be a matter of very deep and immediate concern which needs emergency measures,” it said. “There are raging concerns on aspects referring to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It’s been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, a part of the MHA, has sent an “exhaustive recommendation for blocking the malicious apps,” the promulgation said.
The Internet Freedom Foundation said, “This isn’t a legal order issued under Section 69A. Our first task is transparency and disclosure.” The activist group tweeted such cases needed to be considered individually and not within the aggregate.
“There is legitimacy in concerns of information security and citizens’ privacy,” it said. “This is also achieved through regulatory processes that emerge from objective, evidence-based measures. This ensures credible action that protects individual liberty, innovation & security interests.”
Roposo By InMobi
InMobi, the ad tech company that owns Roposo, a video app that competes with TikTok, said the move would open up the marketplace for its platform while ShareChat, the Indian social network, welcomed the government’s move.
Bolo Indya, a rival to TikTok, says it’ll have the benefit of the ban on its larger rival. “We welcome the choice as we resonate the concerns raised by the government. This can be the chance for Bolo India and other Indian apps to deliver value, keeping Indian culture and data security at the best priority,” said its co-founder and CEO Varun Saxena.
“From a tactical perspective, it puts enormous economic pressure because these apps were heavily reliant on Indian markets. From a legal perspective, it’s sound because grounds like national security are difficult to challenge in a very court of law,” said Santosh Pai, partner at Link Legal, who tracks Chinese investments within the country. “If this is often the new state of affairs, we want to determine whether Indian apps will fulfil the requirement or American apps will take market share.”
Investors in Indian social apps say that competition will come down because of the ban on Chinese apps.
“The competitive threat will go down. But lots of apps in India are inspired by the deft engineering of Chinese apps. Overall the ecosystem’s ingenuity will impede,” said Deepak Gupta, founding partner at WEH Ventures, which has invested in Indian video blogging platform Trell.
Here’s the whole list of the apps banned:
- Clash of Kings
- DU battery
- saver HeloLike YouCam
- Browser Virus
- CleanerAPUS Browser
- ROMWE Club Factory
- Beauty Plus
- UC News
- QQ Mail
- QQ Music
- QQ News Feed
- Bigo Live
- Mail Master Parallel Space
- Mi Video Call – Xiaomi
- ES File
- Viva Video – QU Video Inc
- Video New Video Status
- DU Recorder
- DU App studio
- DU Cleaner
- DU Browser
- Hago Play With New Friends
- CamScanner Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile Wonder
- Camera Photo Wonder
- QQ Player We Meet
- Sweet Selfie
- QQ International
- QQ Security Center
- QQ Launcher
- U Video
- V fly Status Video
- Mobile Legends
- DU Privacy.