India’s central government on Monday blocked 59 apps with Chinese links, claiming that these apps “are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. Some of the apps that have been blocked are TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, Weibo, Cam Scanner and Xaomi’s Mi Video Call.

The order by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology comes two weeks after 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 wounded in a violent clash with their Chinese counterparts in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control. Following the incident, there had been outrage in India, and calls for banning Chinese products. There were protests around the country, with some people destroying and burning Chinese-made goods. Some politicians, such as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, also called for a prohibition on Chinese goods.

“Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator when it comes to technological advancements and a primary market in the digital space,” the ministry said on Monday. “At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country.”

The ministry said that it has received complaints from various sources about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms, which steal and transfer users’ data in an unauthorised manner to locations outside India. The ministry added that this situation requires “emergency measures”.

The information technology ministry said that the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre of the Ministry of Home Affairs has also recommended blocking these apps. “The Computer Emergency Response Team has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” it said. CERT-In is an office with the Ministry of Information Technology that deals with cyber security threats.

The ministry said the listed apps will be disallowed in both mobile and non-mobile internet-enabled services. “This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users,” the ministry said. “This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

Credit: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.