India has banned the use of 59 smartphone apps it says violate its citizens’ privacy and threaten national security. In a massive coincidence they come from China, and just weeks after border skirmishes between the two nations.
The Indian government's announcement of the software banishment said the offending apps “are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.“
“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India,” the statement continued.
“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 list of banned apps includes software from China’s web giants: for instance, China’s Twitter Sina Weibo; Tencent’s QQ; Baidu’s big hits; popular and lucrative game Clash of Kings; and video sharing platform TikTok.
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Like a ton of other applications, TikTok spies on your clipboard and phones home telemetry about your device. And China’s technology titans are widely believed to assist Beijing's surveillance efforts.
The bigger picture is that India has vowed to retaliate against China for the recent border clashes, which India asserts were incursions into its territory. The contentious border region is home to military outposts though the pair of nuclear nations have agreed not to use weapons to avoid escalating a situation into full-on war. Recent confrontations have therefore involved fist fights and booby traps.
The two countries have entered talks, though India vowed to retaliate.
While the announcement of the app ban does not mention China, the homeland of the listed programs suggests targeted action.
India also announced a national self-sufficiency policy and an ambition to grow an electronics manufacturing industry that uses the vast size of its domestic market to become a global export player. Denying Chinese apps a presence in India satisfies the former goal but could hurt the latter as it makes Chinese companies less likely to want to do business with or in India. ®