India bans 59 Chinese apps including TikTok and Helo

India bans 59 Chinese apps including TikTok and Helo
Credit: Nishant Vyas/Pexels

India has banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Shareit, Mi Video, and UC Browser amid tension between two countries.

The country’s IT ministry invoked Section 69A of the IT Act 2000 that lets the government block services if they’re deemed dangerous for sovereignty and integrity of the country:

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 since 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 ministry accused these apps of “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

The list includes some major names such as TikTok and Helo that has hundreds of millions of users in India. TikTok has more than 200 million users in India and almost a third of its downloads are by the users in the country. Last year, the Bytedance-owned short video app was banned in the country for a short time for its ‘objectionable content’.

Counterpoint analyst Tarun Pathak said that roughly one in three smartphone users in India will be affected by it.

Digital rights organization Internet Freedom Foundation explained in a twitter thread there’s no detail if the IT Ministry has issued an order and followed due process to ban these apps.

India-made apps and startups are applauding this step and already claiming victory over their Chinese counterparts. Earlier this month, Google booted out the “Remove China Apps” app from Play Store that ‘helped’ people in identifying and removing China-made apps.

https://twitter.com/sharechatapp/status/1277673479186178048?s=20

India and China have been involved in a skirmish at the border for a few weeks now. The fight resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

We’ve reached out to ByteDance and  Xiaomi for a comment, and we’ll update the story when we hear back. Additionally, we have also emailed Google and Apple to understand if they will need to delist these apps from the Play Store and the App Store. At the time of writing, all these apps were available to download in both stores.

You can check out all 59 apps banned by India here.

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