The government of India has decided to ban 59 apps of Chinese origin as border tensions worsen in Ladakh after a violent, fatal face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies.
The affected apps include TikTok, Shareit, UC browser, WeChat, Weibo, Xender, QQ Mail, Xender, Viva Video among other apps. which according to the government of India, have been used to siphon data from India to China. Over 2000 TikTok employees based in India have been affected by the ban.
The government said these apps were engaged in activities that were prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and defence of India.
A government press release announcing the ban stated: “The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking it’s power 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 and in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 59 apps since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.
The press release further said that the Ministry of Information Technology has received “many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding the security of data and risk to privacy relating to the operation of certain apps”.
Additionally, “The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding the security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” the press release mentioned.
It further says that the move to ban these Chinese apps move will “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users”. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace, it said.
India also joins Taiwan and Germany which have also banned some Chinese apps including zoom over privacy and cybersecurity issues.
Although the move was sped up by clashes along the Galwan river in India, India is not the only country to act against Chinese apps citing privacy and cybersecurity issues. Taiwan has banned some Chinese apps. So has Germany including zoom.
Earlier, the US national security advisor Robert O’Brian had said all Chinese apps function as arms of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to further its ideological and geopolitical agendas.
Mid last year, Chinese tech giant Huawei was banned by the US government over security issues.
Commenting on the matter, TikTok spokesperson said, “Building empowered local management teams in the countries where TikTok operates, including India, has been critical to our global success. While the Government of India has issued an interim order to block 59 apps, our team of around 2,000 employees in India is committed to working with the government to demonstrate our dedication to user security and our commitment to the country overall.”
“We are proud to provide hundreds of millions of users in India – and around the world – a creative platform for their stories, performances, education, and, often, a way to make their livelihood.” – TikTok spokesperson added.