India bans a further 118 Chinese apps as physical and online tensions escalate

PUBG, Alipay, Baidu and more exiled


India has banned a further 118 Chinese apps, including AliPay, Baidu, and PUBG Mobile, on grounds that they "are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order."

The country's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that it had "credible information" that the apps were being used against India's national interests.

It said it had received complains from "various sources", including the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Home Affairs, that the apps were "stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an authorised manner to servers outside India"

"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 deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures."

China keyboard, image via Shutterstock

India bans 59 apps it says have privacy, national security problems. In a massive coincidence, they’re all Chinese

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India banned 59 apps, including WeChat and TikTok, after a June 2020 border skirmish with China.

The new bans go after some of China's most popular apps. They include AliPay, the world's largest mobile payment system with over one billion users; two apps by search giant Baidu; and Alibaba's Taobao, which is China's answer to Amazon.

The highest-profile casualty is arguably PUBG Mobile, the multiplayer battle royale game developed in South Korea, but published by China's Tencent. As of July, India was the game's most popular market, accounting for about a quarter of its global total with 175 million downloads, according to researchers at app-tracking firm Sensor Tower.

The full list also bans apps related to WeChat, such as its eBook app, WeChat Read, as well as WeChat Work and Government WeChat

This round of bans could also have repercussions beyond China as some of the listed apps have entanglements with significant American companies.

“MARVEL Super War NetEase Games”, for example, is published by a Hong Kong-based company and is the product of a “strategic partnership” with Disney-owned Marvel.

Another banned app, “CamCard for Salesforce”, is sold in the SaaS giant’s appExchange. Salesforce therefore take a slice of sales.

Others, however, have long been flagged as dubious: dating app “Lamour Love All Over The World” has attracted a slew of complaints for initially offering many opportunities to chat with flirtatious women, but users who sign up for a subscription report amorous approaches quickly diminish.

Some apps on the new list don’t seem to do much more than ask for permission to read device storage and to have developers headquartered in China.

The bans follow several days of new confrontations on a disputed border shared by India and China. An Indian army statement on Monday alleged that China carried out "provocative military movements" in the border area under cover of darkness last weekend. ®

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