The order said that 59 Chinese apps that have been banned by the Government of India “are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of state and public order”.
Amid the heightened tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian government on Monday took an unprecedented step and decided to ban at least 59 Chinese apps.
The list of 59 mobile apps with their origin in China includes TikTok, SHAREit, UC Browser, Baidu map, Helo, Mi Community, Club Factory, WeChat, UC News, Weibo, Xender, Meitu, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi, CamScanner, and Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile.
The order issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stated that the 59 Chinese apps that have been banned by the Government of India “are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of state and public order”. The order added: “This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
Full list of Chinese apps banned by the Indian government:
Details of the Indian govt order on Chinese apps
Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator when it comes to technological advancements and a primary market in the digital space. At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to the sovereignty and security of our country. The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers that have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining, and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern that requires emergency measures.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps. 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. There has been 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.
On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such Chinese 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. These apps are listed in the attached appendix.”
What led to the move
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.
An unspecified number of Chinese troops were also killed in the clash on the intervening night of June 15 and 16, which happened when Indian soldiers had gone to inspect whether the Chinese had withdrawn from the Galwan River bend in the valley which was on the Indian side of the LAC.
The Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in eyeball-to-eyeball situation along the LAC at several locations for nearly two months now. The first violent clash had taken place between the troops of the two armies at Pangong Tso on May 5, in which nearly 100 troops were injured.
PUBG Mobile, Zoom, and other popular Chinese apps that have not been banned in India
PUBG is not Chinese. NOT CHINESE.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a subsidiary of the South Korean video game company called Bluehole. The game has been created from earlier mods which were created by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene for other games. The game has been inspired by the 2000 Japanese film called Battle Royale.
The Chinese connection comes from Tencent Games – the largest publisher of video games in China. Tencent had approached Bluehole during the early access of the game with an offer to publish the game in China and also purchase equity in the company. After a ban by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association for the game being too violent – PUBG finally reached a formal agreement with the Chinese government to allow PUBG mobile in the country and with Tencent Games as the publishing partner. The game has been since renamed to Game for Peace which now meets the country’s content restrictions.
The same game is marketed and distributed by Kakao Games in South Korea.
Zoom is not Chinese, it is American
Zoom Communications, Inc. or Zoom is an American company dealing with communications technology and is headquartered in San Jose, California. The company has a large workforce in China which had earlier given rise to surveillance and censorship concerns over a number of security lapses and poor design.
The company rose to prominence after the subsequent lockdowns to slow down the spread of coronavirus resulted in global companies asking their employees to work from home.
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Communications, was quoted by a Times of India report as stating, “Recently, questions have been raised about Zoom and China. At first, this seemed to stem from a temporary misconfiguration in our global data centre routing that we fixed.” Yuan has stated that Zoom is an American company and has been founded and headquartered in California.
Zoom has since added end-to-end encryption after they acquired Keybase – a company specialising in encryption technologies.
The ban will ensure the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace and safeguard the interests of crores of mobile and internet users.
While the orders have been issued today, it may take some time for the app and play stores to act on them. The government order will apply not just to new downloads but will also cover the already downloaded apps that have been banned. Those who have already downloaded these apps will not be able to use them as they will all be deactivated.