The government of India has announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps that were listed on the Google Play Store and the Apple iOS App Store in India. The list includes the popular short video service TikTok, browser and content app UC Browser, file sharing service Shareit, shopping app Shein, popular mobile game Clash of Kings, and more.
These apps have been deemed to be a threat to the sovereignty of India, and the ban comes in light of India and China’s Galwan Valley clash. The apps have reportedly been penalised based on intelligence information regarding how they share data with their parent companies, all of which are based in India.
But how do apps just get banned? What happens to an app that gets banned? Or the app that's already installed on your phone? Will you now have to deactivate your TikTok account?
As soon as the ban was announced last night, Indians were bombarded with a ton of questions, mostly because these apps, including TikTok, are the ones with a majority of them use frequently. So, what happens next? There's no reason to fret, we'll break it down for you.
What happens to apps on your phone?
The 59 Chinese apps have been banned. But what exactly does this ban mean?
These banned app are still available on play store and we can access them through regular ISP. Them what do you mean by ban? — drsnlungare (@drsnlungare) June 30, 2020
The banned apps, are they working? What does it mean to ban an app? What's going to happen to all the data? — Imp's Mom (@ImpsMom) June 30, 2020
A ban must mean you're expected to uninstall the app. It would be illegal to use it or even have it in your phone. Govt can't "switch off" the app centrally for everyone — Sanjeev Chawla (@schawla13) June 30, 2020
One question on this Chinese apps ban - does it mean these apps to be not available in the app store or will these apps will not be able to connect to the internet even if one has them downloaded? If it is former, @TikTok_IN and @UCBrowser might just do fine. No? — Puneet Kumar (@puneetiitm) June 30, 2020
Basically, all the apps that have been banned would cease to become functional on your phones. Now, the government is in discussion with the Internet Service Providers who will subsequently cease to provide support to the apps. Most of the apps in question, TikTok, Clash of Kings, UC Browser, they all rely on an Internet connection to work. Without Internet, they would simply stop working.
Will you have to delete the apps on your phone?
That is entirely up to you. Previously, if an app had been banned, it would still continue to be functional if it did not rely on the Internet. But now that most apps do, they will not work in India anymore.
However, if you move out of the Indian network space and to a country where the app is permitted, your app would work again. For instance, let's say you have TikTok on your phone. In India, you will not be able to use TikTok. But if you head to the United States, where there is no countrywide ban on the app, you will be able to use it.
How to deactivate your account on TikTok?
Once the ban was announced, several disheartened Indians desperately Googled how to deactivate their TikTok accounts.
On TikTok, deletion is permanent. Once you go through with it, there is no looking back. You can go to the settings option under profile and then confirm that you want to delete the app. Once you do, your account will be erased and you will lose all the videos that you had posted. You will no longer be able to use the same ID and password to log in. In short, if you are ever able to use TikTok again, you will have to start anew.
Are these apps still available?
A few hours after the ban, people checked to see if the apps were still available on their phones' playstores. And it was. So, does that mean you can still the app? Or does it mean it is illegal to use the app? This seemed to baffle a lot of people:
Mere phone main to ab bhi chal raha hai Tik Tok. What does ban mean is it something like it's illegal to use the app? — Scott (@sckautt) June 29, 2020
What does ban mean I have asked every minister jo dhol pitt rahe hain isss news ka Still app is visible Should common people stop using it and that is called ban or govt will block pic.twitter.com/BbjRacH2X0 — NB (@bohara_navneet) June 29, 2020
Video sharing apps such as Helo and TikTok have been removed from the Android Playstore. That means you will not be able to download the app if you previously did not have it. This is what you get when you search for TikTok or Helo on your phone:
However, other apps like ShareIt and Shein are still available but these too will be removed soon:
On Apple, however, only TikTok has been removed so far. Most other apps are still available. Yet, we aren't sure for how long:
The ban on the 59 apps came as a sudden announcement, without any prior warning. Naturally, unsuspecting Indians were caught off-guard.
After the Galwan valley clash, many had called for a ban on Chinese products, which included Chinese apps. For days after the clash, #BoycottChineseApps and #BoycottChina remained the top trends on social media. But even those who called for the ban probably did not realise what it would mean when the government actually followed through with it.