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India bans TikTok and other Chinese apps

June 29, 2020

Indian authorities banned dozens of mostly Chinese apps, including TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser, saying they were "prejudicial" to India's defense, security and public order. The move follows a deadly border clash.

TikTok app
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Da Qing

Indian officials barred 59 mobile apps, most of them run by Chinese companies, on Monday, saying they were engaged in "activities" that were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state and public order."

The apps include video-sharing platform TIkTok, social media app WeChat and UC Browser developed by a company owned by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba. Indian authorities also banned video games such as Clash of Kings and Mobile Legends.

The ban applies to both "mobile and non-mobile internet enabled devices." Weibo, China's micro-blogging service equivalent to Twitter, has also been blacklisted in India.

The ban comes less than two weeks after a deadly border clash between Chinese and Indian troops, which saw at least 20 Indian soldiers lose their lives.

Read more: Hello, Big Brother: How China controls its citizens through social media

Concerns over data use

TikTok and WeChat are widely popular in India. However, WeChat — which now boasts close to 1.2 billion active monthly users — is also known for being strictly monitored by the Chinese authorities.

The Ministry of Information Technology took the step "in view of the emergent nature of threats," officials said.

"The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps ... for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India," the officials were quoted as saying by the Times of India.

They added that compilation, mining and platforming of this data was "a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures."

dj/rs (AFP, Reuters)