New Delhi, 30th June 2020: India government banned 59 Chinese apps including hugely popular TikTok, Shareit, etc. stating that they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity, and security of the country.
Amid current stand-off along with the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the move by the Indian government sends a clear message to the world about India’s stand over Chinese incursion.
The Information Technology Ministry in a statement said it has 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 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 said.
The IT Ministry said it has invoked its power under section 69A of the IT Act and rules, and has decided to block 59 apps in view of information available that they are “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
The 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 added.
The list included prominent names like TikTok (which has over 200 million users in India), SHAREit, WeChat, UC Browser, Helo, Likee and Cam Scanner, among others.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps, the statement said, adding that 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 citizens. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside Parliament.
“On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” it added.
“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,” the statement said.
Over 2015-19, Chinese investors including Alibaba, Tencent, TR Capital and Hillhouse Capital, have invested over USD 5.5 billion in Indian startups, according to Venture Intelligence that tracks private equity, venture capital, M&A transactions and valuations, in India.
Tiktok complying with Indian govt order
TikTok today said it is in the process of complying with the government’s order on blocking of the app, and asserted that it has not shared information of Indian users with any foreign government, including that of China.
The short video-sharing company said it has been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.
Meanwhile, TikTok app has been taken down from Google Play store and Apple App store.
TikTok added that it continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under the Indian law and has not shared any information of its users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government.