India bans 59 apps with Chinese links

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New Delhi: India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

The ban, which comes in the backdrop of current standoff along the line of actual control in Ladakh with Chinese troops, is also applicable for WeChat and Bigo Live.

The list of apps that have been banned also include Helo, Likee, CamScanner, Vigo Video, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi, Clash of Kings as well as e-commerce platforms Club Factory and Shein.

This marks the largest sweep against the Chinese technology companies.

The information technology ministry in a statement said it 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 unauthorised 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,” the statement said.

A formal order asking phone companies to block the applications is being issued.

TikTok (which has over 200 million users in India), Likee and Vigo Video are popular short video creation platforms while Club Factory and Shein are e-commerce platforms that were looking at expanding their presence to compete with larger rivals like Myntra.

WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging and social media app that rivals WhatsApp.

CamScanner is a popular app that allows users to scan images and share them.

SHAREit app allows users to share files between devices, while Helo – a social media platform – is owned by ByteDance, the parent firm of TikTok.

Alibaba’s UC Browser is a mobile Internet browser that has been available in India since 2009. It claimed to have registered 1.1 billion user downloads worldwide (excluding China) in September 2019, with half of its global installs from India. It also claimed to have 130 million monthly active users in the country at that time.