The Union government announced on Monday a ban on 59, mostly Chinese, mobile applications like TikTok, UC Browser and WeChat, citing concerns that these are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
The move comes after weeks of discussions within the govt. that began before the border dispute with China flared up earlier this month, but was expedited within the aftermath of the deadly June 15 confrontation in Galway Valley, officials conscious of the discussions told HT on the condition of anonymity.
Officials cited above said Union home minister Amit Shah extended his support to the move to dam the applications and signed off on a recommendation by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Saturday before the order was formally issued by the IT ministry as per protocol.
These are the list of Applications.
7.Clash of Kings
8.DU ba ttery saver
32.ES File Explorer
33.Viva Video — QU Video Inc
36.New Video Status
40.Mi Video Call—Xiaomi
43.Hago Play With App New Friends
45.Clean Master — Mobile Cheetah
53.QQ Security Center
56.Vfly Status Video
HT reported about these discussions and therefore the possibility of the ban on June 17.
According to a press release issued by the IT ministry, the ministry of home affairs, Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre and lots of citizens had asked for the “blocking of those malicious apps”.
The concern especially is about these applications jeopardising the info of Indian users. The 59 apps had been reported for “leaking data”, consistent with IT ministry official who asked to not be named.
“All these apps are reported to possess been leaking data. Their malpractices have also been singled out by experts. they had been said to require location data, transfer files to servers in China. Moreover, the sweetness apps, like beauty plus and selfie camera have also been reported for being a threat as they contain pornographic content,” this person said.
“Although most of these apps are of either Chinese origin or controlled by Chinese companies, there are others based out of Singapore and Hong Kong ,” the official added.
Last week, cybersecurity researchers discovered video sharing TikTok was among several applications that might illegitimately access any data an iPhone user would have copied. TikTok acknowledged the difficulty and said it had been thanks to a faulty component within the app, which they might rush a fix.
Intelligence agencies are pushing for restrictions on such mobile applications on grounds that they were designed to extract data and park them outside the country where they might be wont to poke into the privacy of citizens.
Such concerns were alluded to within the IT ministry statement on Monday. “The ministry of knowledge technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.
“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, may be a matter of very deep and immediate concern which needs emergency measures,” it added.
The ministry said it had been using its powers under section 69A of the knowledge technology act to announce the ban.
Among the 59 apps are some that are popularly used. TikTok, consistent with Bloomberg data, had nearly 200 million users in India as of January this year. Others, like CamScanner and SHAREIt, are popular tools employed by people to digitize and exchange information.
Chinese companies are suspected of building backdoors in their hardware and software, a priority most prominently cited by several countries where officials are wary of deploying Chinese-made 5G networking equipment.
Robert O’Brien, the National Security Adviser within the Trump administration, recently said China-linked companies acted as an arm of Beijing’s Communist Party and tried to “control thoughts” to serve the party’s interests.
According to experts, further clarity on the ban will depend upon the precise order issued. “At the outset, the govt must make the order public,” said Ramanjit Singh Chima, lawyer and Asia Pacific Policy Director at Access Now, a world digital rights group. “This may be a handout, it doesn’t mention whom this order is directed towards, is that the app providers or the app stores or the web service providers that need to enforce the ban.”
Cheema added that under section 69 of the Act, the IT Ministry has within the past kept such order confidential albeit it’s unconstitutional to try so.
“The bigger question to ask is, is it legitimate to issue a blanket ban on a whole service. International courts have ruled it’s a disproportionate restriction on free speech, you’ll restrict content but it’s to be during a proportionate.”
“In doing this, the govt has also blocked legitimate government departments and therefore the media who have a considerable presence on a number of these apps. It goes against India’s ethos of free speech,” he said.
There are several government agencies, such MyGov and therefore the Press Information Bureau that have accounts on TikTok and these will now be deleted, consistent with a government official who asked to not be named.