The Central Government has banned 54 Chinese applications over privacy and security concerns stating that these were clones of the previously taken down apps and had obtained critical permissions to collect sensitive information and user data from people.
Back in 2020, as many as 267 apps were blocked by the government of India citing privacy and security concerns amid the border tension between India and China. The then union electronics and information technology minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad had called the ban on the Chinese apps a digital strike against China.
As per the statement by the Union Electronics and Information Technology Ministry, the 54 Chinese apps have been misused and have aided in transmitting real-time data to servers located in China. The statement said that this has enabled them to compile huge amounts of personal data to mine, analyse, collate and profile by the elements that are hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of the nation and for activities that have been baneful to the national security of India.
It has added a request for the blocking of applications was received from the Union Home Ministry under an emergency provision from the Information Technology Act. a report from the Ministry was cited in the statement and added that these apps that have been banned were either cloned versions or had similar functionality to the previously banned apps by the government. These apps were capable of carrying out espionage and surveillance activities via camera, mic, accessing locations via GPS and also doing malicious network activity very similar to the earlier banned apps in 2020.
The statement further added that the apps had been allegedly involved in activities prejudicial to the nation’s sovereignty and integrity and had posed a serious threat to the national security of India and India’s defence as well. Some of the apps that have been banned include Beauty Camera, Onmyoji Chess, Viva Video Editor, Equaliser, Music Player, Rise of Kingdom: Lost Crusade, Tencent Xriver among others. India has banned more than 200 apps so far on the grounds of national security.
Google announced the ban on these apps and stated that on receipt of the interim order passed under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, following the established process, they had notified the affected developers and had temporarily blocked the access to apps that remained on Play Store in India.
The Indian government first took down the apps in June 2020, including TikTok. Almost a month after the ban, mirror apps were taken down as well because they were functioning despite the ban. In September that year, the Central Government had banned 118 mobile apps including the popular gaming app PUBG accusing these apps of stealing and surreptitiously transmitting data of users in an unauthorized manner.