For the fourth time since June, the Government of India has banned another set of Chinese owned smartphone apps, believed to be a threat to the national security of India. The latest ban, announced late yesterday, included 43 new apps, adding to the ones already banned in the previous months. The apps included in the latest app ban include AliSuppliers Mobile App, Alibaba Workbench, AliExpress – Smarter Shopping, Better Living, Alipay Cashier, CamCard – Business Card Reader, CamCard – BCR (Western), DingTalk and more. This means that now a total of 267 Chinese owned apps are banned in India, and the complete list includes popular apps such as TikTok, PUBG Mobile, Shareit, UC Browser, WeChat and CamScanner, to name a few.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) of the Government of India has issued an order under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, with action 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 government says in the order. The reaction from the industry, which has been pushing made in India apps, is supportive of the latest ban on Chinese apps.
Data security and the data that is being collected by apps in your phone, remains a concern. “With the ban of additional 43 apps, the government has yet again proved that the security and hygiene in the Indian smartphone and app ecosystem needs to be maintained. The biggest security concern is that a lot of apps on your smart phones collect massive amounts of data which has nothing to do with the service it provides. It takes several security-sensitive and intrusive permissions which the user doesn’t understand but ends up agreeing to,” says Aditya Narang, Co-founder & MD, SafeHouse Technologies. They provide enterprise-grade security solutions for mobile phones.
Some in the industry see this as a good opportunity for localized apps and solution to seamlessly slot in the space vacated by the banned Chinese owned apps. “It is an opportune time for Indian tech and IT community, to work towards making India’s IT framework more resilient. This support to homegrown apps will help us in going global. This is also great for the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission of Govt of India. We welcome all such decisions that in turn enhance the security of our country and its denizens,” says Dr. Ajay Data, Founder and CEO, VideoMeet Pvt Ltd. They are the developers of Videomeet, a video meeting and video conferencing solution that has been developed in India.
“India’s sovereignty and security should and will always be the first priority, so we completely support Govt move to ban 43 Chinese apps, Indian start-ups and app developers have already proven their mettle in replacing and filling up the space created by Chinese app ban. This will further encourage and boost Made in India apps, which are bound to create value in Indian markets and then dominate globally,” says Pulkit Sharma, co-founder and CEO, Khabri. This is a digital audio platform providing news and content in regional languages and is currently available for Android phones.
One of the apps included in the latest list of apps banned is Snack Video. Bolo Indya, a made in India short video app on the same format as TikTok and Snack Video, is ready to take up the space that is being left vacant. “This is yet another welcome move from the government to stand against Chinese apps that always have had serious privacy issues. We happily extend our support to all the language users and creators of Snack video especially who are residing in tier 3/4 cities to come and join Bolo Indya,” says Varun Saxena, Founder and CEO, Bolo Indya. The developers say that Bolo Indya users consume this sort video content, on an average, for 30 minutes a day. The app has 68 lakh users, most coming from the smaller towns in India and there are 28 lakh creators on the platform putting videos in as many as 14 Indian languages.
In the previous three sets of app bans for Chinese owned apps, we had apps including APUS Launcher Pro- Theme, Live Wallpapers, Ludo World-Ludo Superstar, Chess Rush, PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik, PUBG MOBILE LITE, Baidu, Baidu Express Edition, FaceU – Inspire your Beauty, GO SMS Pro – Messenger, Alipay and AlipayHK in India, as part of a group of 118 apps. Similar app bans were also announced on July 27 and June 29, which included apps such as Helo, Mi Community, YouCam makeup, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile and QQ Security Center.
The app bans have 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 defense of India.