TikTok, other Chinese apps banned in India: This is a clear message to China after the increase in tension along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh resulting in a fatal clash that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers.
India on Monday banned 59 apps that originate from China, including some very popular ones like short-video platform TikTok, UC Browser, ShareIt and CamScanner. While it is not clear how the ban will play out, this is a clear message to China after the increase in tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, resulting in a fatal clash that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers.
How has India enforced the ban on Chinese apps?
The ban has been enforced under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which states: “Where the Central Government or any of its officer specially authorised by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in *the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State*, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-section.”
Underlining this, the Ministry of Information and Technology has said it “has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps… for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”. It said that since this “ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures”.
How will the apps be banned for users?
The ban notification is expected to be followed by instructions to Internet service providers to stop access to these apps. So users are soon likely to see a message saying access to the apps have been restricted on the request of the government. However, while this works for apps like TikTok and UC News that need a live feed to serve any purpose, users might be able to keep using apps that don’t need an active internet connection to be used. However, further downloads of these apps, like CamScanner, are likely to be blocked on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
What will be the impact of the ban?
Some of the banned apps are very popular among Indian users, especially TikTok which has over 100 millions active users in the country, especially in heartland India. New social media platforms like Help and Likee, as well as video chat app Bigo Live are also immensely popular among Indians who are not comfortable in English. So these users will now have to look for new avenues.
There is also the fact that most of these platforms have Indian creators, for many of whom this is the sole income source. These people will now be hard pressed to find an alternative. There will also be a few thousands jobs at stake as a lot of these apps have India office and employees.
Will the ban be permanent?
TikTok was banned in India for a few days last year, but came back soon after once the court vacated the ban. However, this time the action is more sweeping and impacts more apps, so it remains to be seen if it has a permanent nature. This could also be a warning to larger Chinese business in India given the prevailing stalemate between the two Asian giants.
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