India Bans 47 Additional Chinese Mobile Apps

By Frank Fang 

The Indian government has banned 47 additional Chinese social media applications, following a ban of 59 mostly Chinese apps last month, according to several local media.

The fresh action involves clones and variants of apps that were targeted at the end of June. Citing an unidentified source, Press Trust of India said the ban for all Indian users went into effect on July 24.

India Today, citing its own unidentified sources, also reported on the expanded ban and added that the list would be released soon.

Several local media outlets identified some of the newly banned apps, such as TikTok Lite, a lite version of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, as well as Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, Bigo Live Lite, and Cam Scanner Advance.

TikTok, Helo, SHAREit, Bigo, and Came Scanner were among the 59 Chinese apps initially barred. According to a press release by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, these apps “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state, and public order.”

The June ban, which also included popular Chinese messaging app WeChat and social media platform Weibo, was issued amid heightened tensions between China and India after a deadly clash in a disputed border region on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

On July 25, disengagement at some locations in the eastern Ladakh region, where the clash took place, had been complete, India Today reported.

The Indian government said in a statement on July 4 that one of the reasons for banning the 59 apps was because “some apps have been stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data to servers based outside India.”

Without naming China, it warned that companies may hand over users’ data to foreign governments, damaging India’s national interests.

On July 10, the Indian government published on its website the names of alternative Indian apps to the 59 banned apps, saying the ban was an opportunity for India to become reliant on its own tech capabilities.

Lawmakers, officials, and experts in the United States have also expressed concerns about Chinese apps’ collection of user data, particularly by TikTok, which was rolled out by the Beijing-based tech firm ByteDance in 2016.

A U.S. proposal to ban TikTok on government-issued devices was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on July 22, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate. Two days earlier, House lawmakers voted 336–71 to pass a similar bill. If approved by the Senate, any differences between the two versions will then be negotiated.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has prepared another list of over 250 Chinese apps that it will examine for violations of user data and national security, India Today and The Economic Times reported on July 27.

The Economic Times reported that it had reviewed the list, which includes AliExpress, developed by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, and Tencent’s PubG.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer

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