47 New Chinese Apps Banned by the Indian Government (July 2020)

Chinese apps banned in India are purely the decision made by the Indian Government. 

According to the  sources within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Once again, The Narendra Modi government has banned nearly 50 more Chinese apps over security and data sovereignty concerns. The official list of banned applications will be released soon. 

The story so far :

chinese apps banned

Over a border conflict with China had opened up doorways for ban on several Chinese apps of different categories. On June 29th, the Indian government had announced the ban over 59 apps especially in short video category.  These include popular apps such as ShareIt, TikTok, UC Browser, CamScanner, WeChat, Helo, Weibo,  Club Factory and many more. 

Secondly on 27 July 2020, The Govt. Again banned 47 Chinese apps. The official notification will be released soon publically with a full list of banned apps by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This will likely include clones lite versions and variants of the 59 apps that were banned a month ago in June 2020.

After banning 47 Chinese apps, the Indian government could ban over 200 other apps in the country citing data security and national sovereignty concerns.  

An Intricate Elucidation over banned apps:

There are some lesser-known apps including 14 apps by Xiaomi are  Capcut, FaceU, Meitu, LBE Tech, Perfect Corp, Sina Corp, Netease Games and Yoozoo Global. The list also includes Helsinki-based Supercell having investments by Chinese tech companies as well as apps like Resso and ByteDance’s ULike could also be examined by the government. 

 Due to security reasons, some of these apps have been red-flagged whereas others have been listed for violation of privacy concerns and data sharing. 

These 47 banned app clones include Tiktok Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite, SHAREit Lite, Helo Lite, and VFY Lite

A total of 275 apps were on the government radar will be examined for any user privacy or national security violations. Some major and top gaming Chinese applications are also expected to be banned soon in the new list that is being drawn up including PubG. It also includes apps linked to Alibaba like Ali Express. A report has stated that the government is also looking for the apps which are not Chinese but have investments from China. A report from various sources has been drawn up that The Chinese applications, that are being reviewed, have allegedly been sharing data with the Chinese agencies.

Announcing the ban, a government press release stated: In view of the emergent nature of threats, invoking powers under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act along with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009, The Ministry of Information Technology ‘decided to block 59 apps since they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order  in view of information available’.

A day later, Google asserted that it has removed all the banned applications from the Play Store in India. Following the ban, TikTok disproved the claims that indicates  it might pursue legal action against the Indian government for banning the app in India.

“China is strongly concerned, verifying the situation”. Lijian, The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson statement in a Press conference. He advocated that the Chinese government incessantly urged Chinese businesses to abide by international and local laws-regulations.  Zhao Lijian  also further extended that The Indian government has a responsibility to uphold the legal rights of international investors including Chinese ones. 

Companies owning, holding, and running it have been served a questionary after Few Days of the act under which the Indian govt banned Chinese apps, seeking information like sharing data under China’s legislation & laws and whether owners are associated with any political party or not. The Govt. gave them a time of three-weeks to respond. If failed, then this will lead to their permanent ban.

According to the TOI report, the questionnaire including about 80 queries, has been divided into sections such as “company”, “ownership”, “services & security”, “privacy policy” and “data-related information”. The section on ownership asks about their links with the Chinese political party. The query formed for the same is if the company’s owners, directors, or “any other members” associated with the firm or its parent entity, subsidiaries, or holding company has links with a political party or not. 

 The report mentioned that In case the Indian operations of the app are controlled by a company established in India, The Centre has asked for the citizenship details of owners, management and directors of the parent and its subsidiary companies . 

The questionnaire also seeks details on the  technological and financial  relation between the parent company and its Indian arm and differences in permissions sought from users in India as compared to those in other locations.

Why were the Chinese apps banned?

chinese apps banned

In a press release, The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asserted that it had received “many complaints from various sources about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers having  locations outside India.” This assertion included several reports also. 

User Base in India for these banned apps:

The user base in India for these apps are large. For instance, Estimates by Sensor Tower show that the Tik Tok, a video-sharing social networking app has seen about 611 million downloads in India over the app’s lifetime, while estimates of active users vary with the highest at 200 million. According to a trustworthy source, the file-sharing tool SHAREIt has about 400 million users. The stats place the Alibaba-owned UC Browser second in India market share at 10.19%, after Google Chrome (78.2%) estimating its user base at 130 million. 

Chinese Kuaishou owned Snack Video got 10 million new downloads after  June 29 which was approximately 59 times of the 172,000 downloads the app got between June 8 and June 28, which is the month before the ban announced.  The second-largest TikTok alternative ‘Zili’ which is published by smartphone stalwart Xiaomi, its downloads grew by 167 percent to nearly 8 million during the same period.

How will users be affected?

These banned apps may continue to exist on mobile devices where it is installed beforehands. But the users will not be able to access updated versions in future because the latest versions of the apps have been removed from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. 

China’s response to the ban: 

China has remarked that it doubts India’s actions could be in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Reacting to the 59 apps banned by India, The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country is strongly concerned regarding the decision of the Indian government. 

Responding to the act of banning Chinese apps, Ji Rong, a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, said in a statement that the Chinese side was ‘seriously concerned with and firmly opposed’ to such an action, adding that the grounds for banning the apps were ‘ambiguous and far-fetched’. He asserted that the measure was discriminatorily aimed at Chinese apps and was selective in nature. 

He countered that it goes against the general trend of local and international trade and e-commerce. He further noted that the ban would affect Indian jobs and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India. He urged India to treat all investments and service providers equally and create an open and fair business environment.

The Chinese Official claimed that this act [is suspected] of violating the WTO rules, as it runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, and abuses national security exceptions.  This comment seems like that The Chinese Government is anxious to file a formal complaint at the WTO.

Indian Government’s Reaction: 

In an interim order on 29 June, the Union electronics and information technology ministry said that the apps were engaged in activities that are ‘prejudicial to the defence of India, sovereignty and integrity of India,  security of state and public order’. 

We are looking to understand data-sharing practices of these banned apps :

  •  How much of Indian data and stats goes back to China? 
  • under what circumstances can the Chinese government request this information? 
  • its national security law and so on. 

Following this, the ministry sent a list of about 80 questions to the owners of these banned apps

The government official stated that The companies may be banned if they are unable to provide satisfactory answers. The government claimed that the move was necessary to “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and Internet users”.

 After announcing the decision publicly through a press release, The government had ordered telcos to block access to all those apps as well as their related websites shortly. 

It also directed Google and Apple to remove he banned apps from their respective app stores in the country.

A lots of application are under scanner.Name of these application could not be fully confirmed. There are many apps with similar names, features, functionalities as well as operational ethics similar to the formerly banned 59 Chinese apps. An official statement is awaited regarding the banned apps and circular about the apps that are going to be banned. 

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