The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India has banned 118 more Chinese owned apps, as part of what is a third crackdown on apps that are believed to be a threat to national security. The apps and games that are in the latest list of 118 include PUBG Mobile Lite, Ludo World, APUS Launcher, Ulike, AliPay, Super Clean – Master of Cleaner, Phone Booster, Tencent Weiyun, Baidu, FaceU, AppLock Lite and Cleaner – Phone Booster. These apps, depending on their availability on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, will be restricted for new downloads and apps that you may have already installed on your phone, will have their network and data based features restricted. This also comes at a time when Atmanirbhar Bharat is in focus, as the government is pushing for local development of products, apps and services, instead of relying on imports.
This comes after the Government of India banned 59 apps on June 29 and followed that up with a second crackdown almost a month later by banning 47 more apps that cloned the apps previously restricted in India. This has been done deriving powers under the 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 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defence of India. Previously as well, popular apps that were banned included TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. The government says these apps “are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”
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“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology 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 unauthorized 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,” says the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, in a press statement.
“The banning of Chinese apps by the Indian Government is a welcome move. The privacy and safety of information of crores of Indian mobile users is of utmost importance and cannot be compromised. Anything that goes against India’s sovereignty and security needs to be addressed and that’s exactly what the government has done,” says Kiruba Shankar, Co-founder and President, ‘60 Seconds? app’. 60 Seconds? is a short video app, well placed to be the alternative to TikTok. “Data is the new oil and users’ information of crores of Indian users is valuable. We cannot let it fall in the wrong hands as it can be misused. It is very important to ensure that the user data and information are stored in servers in India and provide full assurance for the safety of the information,” he adds.
It was in July that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India and the Niti Aayog launched the Aatmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge giving a push to Indian app developers to create alternative home-grown apps for otherwise popular apps across categories and genres.