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India blocks 59 phone apps, seemingly targeting Chinese companies

New Delhi, June 30 2020: Late last night, the Indian government, announced the blocking of 59 popular  mobile apps,  a ban apparently aimed as Chinese companies.
The ban evoked 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  and cited “the emergent nature of threats… and  in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”
The notification claimed that “the Ministry of 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.”
Among the apps now banned is TikTok  the most downloaded mobile app in India, with more than 120 million active users. The app enables users to create short videos and overlay voices or music and surpassed 2 billion downloads globally in April, according to San Francisco-based market intelligence firm SensorTower. It saw a  surge in india during the Covid lockdown.
Other apps to be blocked  include:
Helo, a social networking app with more than 4 million users in India. Both TikTo9k and Helo come from the same parent company in hina, ByteDance
UC Browser  from the Chinese company Alibaba, is today India's No. 2 internet browser after Google Chrome with 22 percent market share. It  comes by default on many made-in-China phones.
Some like Mi Community and Mi Video are propriety tools to be found on phones and devices fromXiaomi.
Club Factory is India’s third-largest online shopping app
Another  app  widely used on  Indian handphones  is CamScanner used to scan documents and pictures. It  has about 100 million users.
Interestingly Bigo Live (global livestreaming platform), Likee (global short video creation platform)are the products of a Singapore-based company.
Reactions:
Berges Malu, Director- Public Policy, ShareChat
,   leading regional social media platform:
"This is a welcome move from the government against platforms that have had serious privacy, cyber security and national security risks. We expect the government to continue their support for the Indian startup ecosystem".
Vivek Chandy, Joint Managing Partner at J Sagar Associates: “The access to, and storage and usage of, data of Indian users by several of these apps was apparently a concern for some time already. While the protection of that data may be the ostensible reason for this move, its impact on the companies concerned will remain to be seen. In addition to this move, the government should look at strengthening India’s data privacy and protection laws”
The Internet Freedom Foundation, a non-government organisation  has raised some questions in a tweet: “The website blocks are directed on an aggregated basis against 59 websites. Here common grounds and reasoning is made which goes against the individualised nature of the blocking power under Section 69A and the Blocking Rules” It added: ‘Bans’ are absolute prohibitions. These must be adopted as a last step (after) examining a wider roster of regulatory interventions including fines and directions.
Full list of banned apps:

  1. TikTok
  2. Shareit
  3. Kwai
  4. UC Browser
  5. Baidu map
  6. Shein
  7. Clash of Kings
  8. DU battery saver
  9. Helo
  10. Likee
  11. YouCam makeup
  12. Mi Community
  13. CM Browers
  14. Virus Cleaner
  15. APUS Browser
  16. ROMWE
  17. Club Factory
  18. Newsdog
  19. Beutry Plus
  20. WeChat
  21. UC News
  22. QQ Mail
  23. Weibo
  24. Xender
  25. QQ Music
  26. QQ Newsfeed
  27. Bigo Live
  28. SelfieCity
  29. Mail Master
  30. Parallel Space
  31. Mi Video Call – Xiaomi
  32. WeSync
  33. ES File Explorer
  34. Viva Video – QU Video Inc
  35. Meitu
  36. Vigo Video
  37. New Video Status
  38. DU Recorder
  39. Vault- Hide
  40. Cache Cleaner DU App studio
  41. DU Cleaner
  42. DU Browser
  43. Hago Play With New Friends
  44. Cam Scanner
  45. Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile
  46. Wonder Camera
  47. Photo Wonder
  48. QQ Player
  49. We Meet
  50. Sweet Selfie
  51. Baidu Translate
  52. Vmate
  53. QQ International
  54. QQ Security Center
  55. QQ Launcher
  56. U Video
  57. V fly Status Video
  58. Mobile Legends
  59. DU Privacy



    


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