The government of India has announced a ban on 43 more Chinese apps, continuing on three previous app bans that aim to rid the Indian internet space of apps that may potentially used by Chinese state-backed threat actors to spy on Indian internet users, and infiltrate them by downloading malicious files in the background. The most notable app banned in the present list of 43 new apps is the Chinese e-commerce platform AliExpress, alongside a host of Chinese dating apps that were so far listed on app platforms and stores in India.
The move joins the likes of TikTok and PUBG Mobile, among apps that were virally popular in India and are now banned in the country. On June 29, the Indian government began a crackdown on Chinese apps in the interest of protecting the data security of Indian citizens. The first list included 59 Chinese apps, in which popular services such as UC Browser, Shareit and most notably TikTok were mentioned. In a second wave on July 27, the government announced a ban on 47 more Chinese apps, which included popular services such as CamScanner. The most notable ban came on September 2, which banned 118 Chinese apps from India, and included the massively popular battle royale game, PUBG Mobile.
Now, the latest list of banned apps include 43 apps, of which AliExpress was the most popular. A ministry spokesperson said of the matter, “This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs.”
The spokesperson further added, “Our government is committed to protect the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that.” With this, the total number of apps with ties to China, that are now banned in India, reach 267 – tallying with previous reports that stated that the government has a comprehensive list of over 250 apps with Chinese ties that may be banned to protect the concerns of Indian citizen. The move also tallies with persistent tension between India and China – both at the border and China’s activities in the Indian cyberspace.