The Indian government has announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including the hugely popular social media platform TikTok, in connection with data and privacy interests. The decision was taken to prevent Indian users from installing a number of popular Chinese apps and services such as WeChat, Weibo, Baidu Translate, UC Browser, and more on both mobile and desktop, as tensions between the two countries continue to increase.
The Indian Ministry of Information Technology announced the ban in a press release in which it stated that stealing the data of its citizens poses a risk to the security of the country:
“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources, including several reports of abuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transferring users’ data to servers with locations outside India in an unauthorized manner. The compilation of this data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to India’s national security and defense, which ultimately affects India’s sovereignty and integrity, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern that requires emergency action”.
The Indian Ministry of Information Technology also revealed that it had received an “exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps” from both the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Interior. The ban on the 59 apps is aimed at ensuring the privacy of 1.3 billion Indians, although the move comes during a nationwide call to boycott Chinese products and services following the recent border disputes between the two countries.
One day after the central government banned TikTok, a popular short video sharing platform, and 58 other Chinese mobile apps in the country for security reasons, the applications were removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India.
The Indian government has also recently required vendors to indicate the “Country of Origin” when placing their products on the country’s e-marketplace, which could deter customers from buying goods made in China. Other e-commerce companies, including Amazon and Flipkart, have decided to follow in the government’s footsteps by requiring sellers to include the country of origin in their lists.
This could have a major impact on China’s digital silk route ambitions and even lead other countries to ban apps such as TikTok and WeChat. In fact, US senators have already called for an investigation into the way TikTok collects user data and censors certain topics.