New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has banned nearly 50 more Chinese apps over security and data sovereignty concerns, according to sources within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
The apps that will be banned – a full list is yet to be made public by the IT ministry – will likely include clones and variants of the 59 apps that were banned earlier in June 2020.
Initial media reports say that the new list of banned apps includes Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite – with even some extremely popular games like PubG rumoured to also have gotten the axe – but The Wire could not independently confirm the same.
“This is a continuous process. There is nothing like a second list or third list but instead it is a comprehensive look at the way some of these apps function and whether they pose a threat to users and the country’s national security,” a senior official at The IT ministry, who declined to be identified, told The Wire.
The government has also drawn up a list of nearly 300 more apps which are being examined – both by the IT ministry and other government departments – for possible violations of user security and privacy.
This broader list, a copy of which The Wire has accessed – includes offerings by some of China’s biggest technology companies including Xiaomi, Alibaba and Tencent.
“We are looking to understand their data-sharing practices…how much of Indian data goes back to China, under what circumstances can the Chinese government request this information under its national security law and so on. If the companies are unable to provide satisfactory answers, they may be banned,” the official quoted above said.
On June 29, the IT ministry issued an order banning Tiktok, UC Browser and 57 other apps. In its statement, the government claimed that the move was necessary to “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and Internet users”.
While the press release did not identify any of the apps as ‘Chinese’, it was widely seen as a retaliatory measure to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Ladakh.
“There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens,” a government press release said at the time.