The Indian government Monday banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns as India-China bilateral relations remain strained after the death of 20 Indian soldiers June 15 in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops in eastern Ladakh.
India’s ministry of electronics and information technology has issued the list of Chinese apps that are now banned in the country.
“These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order,” said a ministry statement.
The ministry received 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 defense 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,” the statement read.
The ministry said the move would safeguard the interests of millions of Indian mobile users.
“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore [1.3 billion] Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” said the government.
Other Chinese apps on the banned list include Club Factory, SHAREit, Likee, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), Weibo, Baidu, and Bigo Live.
Earlier this month, Indian intelligence agencies red flagged these Chinese apps over safety and privacy issues of users.
The government needs to either block access to these apps or advise people to stop their use, according to the intel inputs, said the agencies.
The report comes amid growing chorus from Indian activists to boycott Chinese products due to the border tensions between the two countries in Ladakh.
The recommendations of the intelligence agencies have backing of the National Security Council Secretariat which determined that certain China-linked applications could be detrimental to the country’s security, said the report citing an unnamed government official.