The union government has issued fresh orders to ban over 54 Chinese apps terming them as a threat to privacy and security of Indians, officials aware of the development told ET. A number of these apps belong to the stable of large Chinese technology firms such as Tencent, Alibaba and gaming firm Net Ease and are “rebranded or rechristened avatars” of apps that have been banned in the country beginning from 2020.
The department of electronics and IT– which issued the latest ban order on the issue that these apps were transferring sensitive data of Indians to servers in countries like China and also the ministry directed top app stores including Google’s Play store to block these applications.
The government used its powers under the Section 69a of the Information Technology Act, 2000 to enforce the latest order.
With banning few apps in June 2020, the government has counted a total of around 224 Chinese apps starting with about 59 apps in the first round, including popular applications like TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer, and Mi Community.
“Many of the apps from the stable of Tencent and Alibaba, have changed hands to hide ownership. They are also being hosted out of countries like Hong Kong or Singapore, but the data was ultimately going to servers in Chinese destinations,” stated an official while pointing out that “even apps such as ByteDance-owned TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat were available for download through alternative means such as APK files,now the government has taken cognizance of it .”
“On receipt of the interim order passed under Section 69A of the IT Act, following established process, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India,” Google has said in a statement.
The government had cited “sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order” as reasons for the ban.
The apps affected at that time include AliSuppliers and Alibaba Workbench, CamCard — Business Card Reader, Chinese Social, WeDate and TrulyChinese.