Says the decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace
In an unprecedented move, the Indian government on Monday announced that it is banning as many as 59 China-made mobile apps that it says are posing danger to the country.
The apps blocked by the government include many popular ones such as TikTok, WeChat, Shareit, UC Browser, and CamScanner.
In a statement, the Information Technology Ministry said that 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 Ministry added that it has received a large number of complaints in recent months about these apps stealing user data and secretively transmitting it to servers located outside India.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, which works under the home ministry, also separately recommended banning the apps.
“This move will safeguard the interests of scrores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace,” the government said.
According to national security experts, the move comes as the first big step by the government to hit Chinese business interests in India, following the recent tussle between the two countries along their border in Ladakh.
India said its 20 soldiers were killed in the bloody clash, while China did not disclose the number of causalities that occurred on its side in that specific incident.
According to an estimate, the Chinese apps banned by the Indian government on Monday earn nearly 30-40 per cent of their revenue from the India.
Popular Chinese app TikTok, developed by a Chinese firm Bytedance, has over 200 million active users in India. Similarly, China’s UC Browser, with 22 per cent market share, is currently the second most popular internet browser in India, after Google Chrome.
Some countries have already banned some Chinese apps over privacy and security issues. For example, the Australian government, in 2018, banned the use of WeChat by its troops.
The same year, the US Council on Foreign Relations accused Chinese government of using apps like Baidu to run propaganda.
Earlier this week, iOS developers and security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk of Mysk blog claimed that TikTok iPhone app is spying on its users by secretly reading the clipboard.
According to researchers, the vulnerability results from the fact that iOS and iPadOS apps have unrestricted access to the system-wide general pasteboard, meaning that a user’s precise location may be made available to an app if they simply copy and paste a photo.
In February, Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman described TikTok as a little more than ‘spyware’.
Huffman said that this popular social media app is “fundamentally parasitic” and uses “fingerprinting technology” that is “truly terrifying”.
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