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TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser and 56 Chinese Apps Banned

TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser among the 59 Apps that have been banned by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY)

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The India-China tension at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has spilled over to the virtual world, it seems. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has decided to ban 59 apps that, the government says, "are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

"The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking it’s 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," an official statement issued by the PIB read. 

The list of 59 mobile apps with their origin in China include TikTok, SHAREit, US Browser, Baidu map, Helo, Mi COmmunity, Club Factory, WeChat, UC News, Weibo, Xender, Meitu, CamScanner, and Clean Master - Cheetah Mobile. 

Rationale Behind It 

The Ministry of Information Technology says 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 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,” it said in the statement.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps, it further added. 

“This Ministry has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps. The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India,” it said. 

The government also directed to ‘a strong chorus in the public space’ to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens, as one of the several reasons for arriving at the decision to ban the apps. 

On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices, it said. 

“This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace,” it added. 

The development has come in the wake of a massive spike in tensions along the 3,488-kilometre-long de-facto border with China, following the Galwan Valley clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action.

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