The Indian government announced today it would ban 59 apps developed by Chinese firms as border tensions grow between the two countries.
India’s Ministry of Information Technology said in a statement that the apps were “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
These 59 apps include ByteDance’s TikTok, whose biggest overseas market is India; Alibaba’s Weibo and UC Browser; and Club Factory, which claims to be India’s third-largest e-commerce firm.
It’s unclear yet how the ban will be operated. As of now, Tik Tok has already been removed from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India. Other blocked apps are still available in the two stores.
The ministry said it had received many complaints from various sources about some of these apps “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”
“The compilation of this 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 which requires emergency measures,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry said it and the Computer Emergency Response Team had also received increased concerns from the public “regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to the operation of certain apps.”
The ban comes after a border clash between the two nations earlier this month where 20 Indian soldiers died.
“The ban on Tik Tok and WeChat has the largest impact on India as they are very popular,” said Bilas, a former employee at Huawei India. “Some Indians might lose their jobs and relevant companies will downsize their staff.”
Bilas said that such an order not only affects China-India diplomatic relationships but also makes it difficult to conduct business and cultural exchanges between two countries.