Monday 29 June 2020 5:31 pm

India bans 59 Chinese apps including Tiktok as standoff escalates

The Indian government has banned 59 Chinese apps including social media platform Tiktok amid privacy concerns, as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate.

India today announced it has blacklisted the usage of certain apps, including Sherait, UC Browser, Clash of Kings, Baidu, We Chat and Xiaomi, claiming they “pose a threat to the sovereignty and security” of the country. 

A statement from India’s IT ministry said: “[We] have 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 compilation of [this] data… is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”

Indian intelligence agencies have long called for restrictions on Chinese mobile apps over fears that they could be used by Beijing to extract Indian citizens’ data.

India’s IT ministry today added: “On the basis… that such apps pose threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices.”

India was the world’s biggest market for Tiktok downloads in 2019, with more than 323m users accounting for 44 per cent of total global demand.

It was briefly banned in the country for two weeks last year, after legislators claimed the app would expose children to pornographic content and cyberbullying, but swiftly climbed back up the rankings after it was reinstated.

The popular short-video app was ranked as the fifth most popular app on India’s Apple platform until as recently as last month, but has since slipped to number 10 amid increasingly hostile relations between India and China. 

It comes after a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops on the disputed Galwan Valley border earlier this month left 20 Indian troops dead, and more than 40 Chinese soldiers killed or seriously injured.

The clash marked the most serious confrontation between the two countries along the border in more than five decades. India blamed the scuffle on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, refuting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.

Before the Open: Get the jump on the markets with our early morning newsletter