Ban On Chinese Apps

Whenever we talk about the foreign policy of India, the relations of India with China and Pakistan take the first place in our mind. We hear news from time to time about the MoUs and deals regarding the trade with these nations. But besides that, the Indo-China relations are always been in the headlines due to the territorial disputes. The Indian government in the wake of the on-going obvious tensions between India and China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladhak banned 59 Chinese apps. According to the Ministry of Information Technology (Meity) these applications are engaged in activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. The ban has been imposed under Section 69A of Information Technology Act read with relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.

On 29th June 2020, India banned 59 Chinese Applications including the famous TikTok app, PubG, Camscanner, and Shein, citing threat to national security & the privacy of Indian citizens under section 69a of IT Act, 2020. The government issued an explanation that these apps are illegally exporting data to locations outside India. It didn’t mention the relation of apps with China, but these apps are mostly of Chinese origin or have a major part of investments from Chinese companies. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) banned these Chinese mobile applications amid to the national security. The relations between these two countries have been strained following the deaths of 20 Indian troops in a stand-off in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15.

The ban was imposed after the Indian intelligence agencies had red flagged these Chinese apps over safety and privacy issues of users, marking it as the largest stroke against the Chinese Technology Companies. The National Security Council Secretariat which determined that certain China-linked applications could be detrimental to the country’s security backed the intelligence agencies.

Impact of the ban –

Impact on China

China is India’s largest trade partner after the US and our dependence on China extends well beyond the tech space. The app ban will certainly have an impact on the holding companies in India. For example, when it comes to TikTok, 30% of total installations come from India and this naturally harms its parent company ByteDance. The impact on China’s economy overall is difficult to predict at this stage, but will of course be negative.

Boycott China

A boycott campaign was given a very visible boost when prominent educator and innovator Sonam Wangchuk took to social media to urge Indians that it was their responsibility as citizens to use their wallet power and leave a negative impact on these Chinese imports. The ban will add fuel to the Boycott China campaign, which is intensifying due to the covid – 19 pandemic and also because of China’s aggression at Galwan valley.

Popularity of the apps in India

India is TikTok’s biggest foreign market, with an estimated 120 million active users daily. TikTok allows users to publish and share short videos. In the years since it has launched in India, the app has become a platform for Indians of all ages and classes. The Government Of India wants to make Indian alternatives for these apps since they were widely used by people of all age groups.

Localization of Data

Data localization in the Indian context simply means that the companies collecting critical data about consumers must store and process such data within the Indian borders. Prior to the RBI’s announcement of a deadline in September last year, most data from India was not stored within the country. It was usually stored on a cloud database outside India. The call to localize sensitive data by the RBI convinced many companies like Paytm, WhatsApp and Google to change their data storage locations to India by 15th October, 2019. This move may bring more investment to the data centre’s in India.

Break to China

This step will counter China’s efforts to become a tech giant. The banned apps have a large user base in India. This move can also urge other nations to look into the matter of our data security and can in turn have a deep impact on China. Also, this would give a support to the China plus one policy.

Need for stricter Laws

India is yet to pass a robust data privacy law and the latest version of the draft gives wide powers to government intelligence agencies – much like the Chinese legal framework. We can conceptualize a holistic digital strategy that closely evaluates all foreign influence in our core information infrastructure rather than continuously reacting to external events. Global power projection begins at home; we need to get our own policies right first.

Complete list of 59 Chinese apps banned by Indian government

1. TikTok

2. SHAREit

3. Kwai

4. UC Browser

5. Baidu Maps

6. Shein

7. Clash of Kings

8. DU Battery Saver

9. Helo

10. Likee

11. YouCam Makeup

12. Mi Community

13. CM Browers

14. Virus Cleaner

15. APUS Browser

16. ROMWE

17. Club Factory

18. NewsDog

19. Beauty Plus

20. WeChat

21. UC News

22. QQ Mail

23. Weibo

24. Xender

25. QQ Music

26. QQ Newsfeed

27. Bigo Live

28. SelfieCity

29. Mail Master

30. Parallel Space

31. Mi Video Call – Xiaomi

32. WeSync

33. ES File Explorer

34. Viva Video – QU Video Inc

35. Meitu

36. Vigo Video

37. New Video Status

38. DU Recorder

39. Vault-Hide

40. Cache Cleaner DU App studio

41. DU Cleaner

42. DU Browser

43. Hago Play With New Friends

44. Cam Scanner

45. Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile

46. Wonder Camera

47. Photo Wonder

48. QQ Player

49. We Meet

50. Sweet Selfie

51. Baidu Translate

52. Vmate

53. QQ International

54. QQ Security Center

55. QQ Launcher

56. U Video

57. V fly Status Video

58. Mobile Legends

59. DU Privacy

Thus, the ban on Chinese apps have brought into light many issues with regard to data privacy and security. With this, it makes a strong point given by India to the world about taking bold steps to secure the country’s sensitive data. The timing of the ban makes it prudent to analyse this move in the geopolitical context of the clash between the Indian and Chinese military in Galwan Valley. This ban will act as a caution for all the tech companies to follow the rules and to store the data locally. And this is also a great opportunity for the Indian companies to launch and upgrade their apps as alternatives to the banned apps. Being responsible citizens of the country, we should all pledge to not use these apps and support the decision of our govt to make India a stronger country, both economically and politically too.

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