The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force on Friday asked its workers to uninstall over 50 mobile applications allegedly linked to China, claiming that it could be used to extract classified information, the Hindustan Times reported. The applications that were blacklisted included video-sharing platform TikTok, and other content sharing apps such as Xender, SHAREit and UC browser.
This came after intelligence agencies expressed privacy concerns related to these mobile applications. The assessment was backed by the National Security Council Secretariat, according to the newspaper.
The decision also came amid heightened tensions between India and China, after the worst border clash between the countries in more than 40 years left 20 Indian soldiers dead. The violent face-off along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley has given rise to a lot of anti-China sentiment across the country.
The circular, issued by Inspector General of Police Amitabh Yash, also asked staff to ensure their family members also remove the apps from their phones. Yash said the decision was made in view of the possibility that the apps’ usage could lead to unauthorised sharing and stealing of personal data. “My conversation with my wife and children could be shared even if their mobile handset has Chinese applications,” he told the newspaper.
Zoom, a popular Chinese video conferencing platform, however, was not included in the list. Yash said this was because the app is already banned in the state’s Special Task Force. “All staff members were told to uninstall it from their mobile handsets and other devices around a month ago,” he added.
Meanwhile, Additional Director General, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar said the circular was issued as a precautionary measure and covers applications that according to them do not have proven credentials or were liable to be misused. Kumar added that though the Uttar Pradesh police have not issued any fresh order on the use of these applications, the instructions are mandatory requirements taken by each organisation “to stay safe in cyberspace”.