In a huge move, the Indian central government on Monday decided to ban 59 mobile applications linked to China on grounds of national security. A formal order, asking phone companies to block the applications, was issued after weeks of discussions that started much before the Ladakh border standoff with China.
The applications include popular short-video app TikTok, and other utility and content apps such as UC browser, Xender, SHAREit and Clean-master. Hindustan Times was the first to report about the government move on June 17.
The Indian government statement reads, “The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking its power under 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 in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 59 apps since in view of the 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.”
Explaining the decision, the IT ministry pointed to the raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country. 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.
In March, the US Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced legislation to further restrict the use of the popular viral video app TikTok on government devices.
The bill seeks to expand existing federal guidance prohibiting use of TikTok to encompass any U.S. government-issued device. The legislation is the most recent effort by U.S. lawmakers to limit Chinese-built tech software, devices and components for fear that those products have the potential to be leveraged by the Chinese government.
While other Asia-based social apps have struggled to gain a global foothold, TikTok quickly amassed more than a billion users worldwide and became a household name alongside American social media stalwarts like Facebook and YouTube. The app is owned by Beijing-based tech startup ByteDance.
The bill was drafted even as the Trump administration prepared a draft order that would ban federal agencies from buying foreign-made drones, another effort to curtail Chinese technology in the United States.