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India bans 47 clones of already banned Chinese apps, examining 275-plus more for possible ban

India bans 47 clones of already banned Chinese apps, examining 275-plus more for possible ban. (Photo courtesy: Indian Express)

(TibetanReview.net, Jul27’20) – With the Ladakh border faceoff being nowhere near resolution, India has continued to take further economic measures against China, reflecting the reality of the less-than-friendly state of relations that the situation has engendered between the two counties. On Jul 24, India’s Information and Technology Ministry announced a ban on 47 apps, which are clones or variants of Chinese-linked 59 apps earlier banned in Jun 2020. India has also prepared a list of over 275 other Chinese apps, including apps linked to Alibaba, that it will examine for any user privacy or national security violations.

“The problem is with the operational ethics of certain apps. This is an ongoing process. If apps qualify under the same grounds of operational ethics, then they will also come under the scanner,” the indianexpress.com Jul 27 quoted a source in the ministry as saying. The source has said “operational ethics” referred to data going back to the Chinese government.

India had earlier, on Jun 29, cited the “emergent nature of threats” from mobile applications, including popular ones of Chinese origin such as TikTok, ShareIt, UCBrowser, Club Factory and CamScanner, to ban 59 apps from China, based on information that they were engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity”, defence, security and public order.

The banned apps included some of the most downloaded in the country, with Indians making up the largest chunk of many user bases.

The move was widely seen as a retaliatory step against China’s violent Ladakh border provocation that led to 20 Indian Army personnel being killed on Jun 15. State-owned telecom companies have also moved to keep Chinese vendors out of their network upgradation tenders.

Officially the government said in a statement on Jun 29, “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 unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

It added that “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.”

And it concluded: “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…has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices.”

On being told that some of the applications listed in the ban order not being “Chinese-owned”, NCSC (National Cyber Coordination Centre) head Rajesh Pant has said: “The company may be registered in Singapore but the servers are in China and China is collecting the data.”

Meanwhile, some top gaming Chinese applications are also expected to be banned in the new list of 275 that is being drawn up, reported economictimes.com Jul 27. It said the list included Tencent-backed gaming app PubG, Xiaomi’s Zili and AliExpress from Alibaba Group.

They will be examine for any violation of national security and user privacy, signaling heightened scrutiny and the possibility of even more Chinese internet companies being banned in the country, the report said, citing people aware of the developments.

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