The Centre has blocked 59 apps with Chinese links that included the hugely popular TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser, amid a huge economic backlash against China following the June 15 clashes at Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers died in action. Sources said inputs from intelligence agencies suggested that the apps have been violating the terms of usage, compromising users privacy, and being used as spyware or malware. Within minutes of the announcement, the Indian government’s TikTok account MyGov, which had 1.1 million followers, was disabled.
The move comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has given a “befitting response” to China. He also spoke of the countrywide call for boycott of Chinese goods, juxtaposing it against the government’s “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” campaign. “We will buy local and be vocal for local and this will help India become stronger,” he said.
In a statement this evening, the government said the apps were blocked “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.”
For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the Government has banned 59 mobile apps.
Jai Hind! 🇮🇳
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 29, 2020
The statement from the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology said it had received an “exhaustive recommendation” from the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The ministry said it also received representations from people on “security of data and risk to privacy” regarding certain apps.
“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. At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians,” said the release.
The move comes amid a countrywide call from traders and civil society to boycott Chinese products and services after the June 15 clashes. The government had chipped in with a bar on Chinese equipment for the 4G upgradation of the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and sacking of a Chinese firm that had a Rs 471-crore railways contract.