India bans 54 more Chinese apps on national security grounds

chinese apps banned india
Image by Golib | Bigstockphoto

India has issued a directive to ban 54 more Chinese apps in the country, claiming they pose a threat to national security. This is the fifth major ban on Chinese apps by the Indian government as border tensions continue with China.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has reportedly used its powers under Section 69(a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 to direct Google’s Playstore to block the applications in India.

Google India said in a statement it has “notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps”.

The 54 apps in question are either a cloned version or have similar functionality, privacy issues and security threats as alleged in 267 apps previously blocked by MeitY in 2020. The ministry said that the apps were transferring sensitive data of Indians to servers in foreign countries such as China.

“This will enable them to compile huge personal data to mine, collate, analyze and profile by the elements who are hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of India and for activities detrimental to national security,” the IT ministry said in a statement.

“In addition, there are other serious concerns as some of these apps can carry out espionage and surveillance activities via camera/mic, accessing fine location (GPS) and do malicious network activity similar to previously blocked apps. These apps were allegedly engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of the country also posing serious threat to security of the state and defence of India,” the statement added. 

The Chinese apps which have been banned include games like Garena Free Fire, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite, Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade, Conquer Online – MMORPG Game, Conquer Online Il, Twilight Pioneers, Badlanders, Extraordinary Ones, EVE Echoes, Stick Fight: The Game Mobile, Astracraft, Onmyoji Chess and Onmyoji Arena.

The government has also banned a slew of beauty and camera applications used by millions of Indian users, including in the list are Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera, Equalizer & Bass Booster, CamCard for SalesForce Ent, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, AppLock, Dual Space Lite.

Popular apps like Live Weather & Radar – Alerts, Notes- Color Notepad, Notebook, MP3 Cutter – Ringtone Maker & Audio Cutter, Voice Recorder & Voice Changer and Barcode Scanner – QR Code Scan have also been banned and will disappear from prominent app stores.

The first round of Chinese app bans came in 2020 following clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Indian government banned 47 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat, and Helo. Since then, the Indian government has banned a total of 224 Chinese apps.

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