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India bans 54 more apps with Chinese links

India bans 54 more apps with Chinese links
Photo Credit: Pixabay
14 Feb, 2022
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The Government of India has issued a new order to ban 54 apps with alleged Chinese links for putting privacy and security of Indian citizens at risk and sending data to Chinese servers, reported the Economic Times.  

This was also reiterated by Kanchan Gupta, senior adviser, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. “The Government of India has banned another 54 Chinese apps due to privacy and security concerns. These apps belong to large #China tech firms like Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase. They are rebranded avatars of apps banned since 2020. 224 Chinese apps have been banned since June 2020,” Gupta said in a Twitter post.  

The new list includes spin offs and rebranded versions of previously banned apps owned by Tencent and Alibaba. Many of these apps were republished from Hong Kong and Singapore to hide their original owners and were sending data to Chinese servers, ministry officials told the Economic Times.  

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The 54 apps have already been taken down from the Play Store in India through an interim order passed under Section 69A of the IT Act, the official added.  

“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 spokesperson said in a statement to Mint and Tech Circle.  

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Google have not released the names of the apps that have been banned this time. However, according to news agency ANI, the banned apps include Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera - Selfie Camera, Equalizer & Bass Booster, CamCard for SalesForce Ent, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, AppLock, Dual Space Lite.  

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India has cracked down on 224 apps with Chinese links since June 2020 after the relations between the two countries deteriorated over the border clash in Ladakh that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers.  

The apps and games that were banned in 2020 include PUBG Mobile as it was being distributed by Tencent at that time. After the ban, the game’s South Korean owners Krafton took over distribution in India and released the game with India centric changes and a new name Battlegrounds Mobile India. The other high-profile app that was banned was TikTok, which had over 200 million users in India at that time. The ban on TikTok created a vacuum in short form video space and saw the emergence of several Indian apps.  

The ban on 54 apps came on the same day when Garena International’s battle royal game Free Fire was taken down from the Play Store and Apple App Store. This has led to speculation that the game was in the list of 54 apps that have been banned. Garena is a Singapore based company and its other game the Free Fire Max is still available in India. The delisting of Free Fire can be due to the copyright violation lawsuit filed by Krafton against Garena, Google and Apple in the US. The lawsuit claims that Garena copied PUBG Mobile and created Garena without signing any licensing agreement with Krafton.  

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