PUBG, Baidu in the latest list of Chinese apps banned by Indian govt

PUBG, Baidu in the latest list of Chinese apps banned by Indian govt
Photo Credit: Pixabay
3 Sep, 2020

The government on Wednesday banned an additional 118 mobile apps, a little over two months after it announced a ban on 59 Chinese-origin apps.

Similar to the previous order, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has invoked Section 69 of the Information Technology Act for imposing the ban. 

The list of banned apps includes predominantly Chinese apps, such as popular gaming app PUBG MOBILE and its lite version, apps from Android development company APUS Group, which runs a popular browser banned in June and selfie beautification app FaceU.

VPN for TikTok, which was being used to access the banned short video platform also features on the list with Chinese web browser Baidu, social dating app Tantan and the mobile version of Alibaba’s shopping platform Taobao. The list also includes pre-installed Android linked apps such as HD Camera and booster app Super Clean.

Legal experts are of the opinion that the current ban is a result of escalating geo-political tensions between India and China. 

Kazim Rizvi, founder of Delhi-based technology policy think tank The Dialogue, said: “I think it's clear that the government is sending a message to the Chinese communist regime to behave and keep their aggression in check. At the same time, however, we also need to assess if this measure is a sustainable solution in the long run.” 

Vaibhav Kakkar, partner, corporate structuring and M&A at legal firm L&L Partners, told TechCircle: “Substantially, this order seems similar to the June order. However, the actual basis for the bans is not currently in the public domain. The move also appears to be driven by geo-political considerations. It remains to be seen if these orders can withstand judicial scrutiny if challenged before the courts.”

The statement issued by MeitY states that the ban on the listed apps for mobile and internet enabled devices was in the “interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of the State.”

The note says that the ministry received complaints from “various sources” related to misuse of the apps, such as stealing user’s data in an unauthorised manner to servers located outside India. 

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence 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 statement said.

MeitY said that apart from Cyber Crime Coordination Centre and Ministry of Home Affairs, which recommended blocking the apps, there were similar concerns flagged by public representatives and a “strong chorus in the public space to take strict action” against such apps. 

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), an association of online traders, said in a statement that it had written to the minister of commerce and minister of IT to ban more Chinese apps on August 24, adding that “apps like PUBG were spoiling the next generation...”