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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

India blocks 59 Chinese apps as threat to ‘sovereignty’; Paytm founder and TikTok India head react to the ban

In a #DigitalStrike, as netizens are terming it, the IT ministry of India has blocked 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, and Bigo Live. The decision was taken under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and the government said that the Chinese apps were “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 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,” read the ministry’s official statement.

For the unversed, the move comes in the aftermath of the current stand-off with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual control in Ladakh. Several Indian citizens have been criticizing the usage of Chinese apps ever since China’s aggressive posturing at LAC began. Now the IT ministry has finally blocked the “malicious apps,” claiming, “This Ministry has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps.”

Now in the recent development, China has said that it is concerned about the Indian government blocking 59 mostly Chinese apps and claimed that the nation was “verifying” the situation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, as reported by ANI, told the media that “China is strongly concerned,” adding that India has a responsibility to uphold the rights of Chinese businesses.

Not to forget, Chinese investors including Alibaba, Tencent, TR Capital and Hillhouse Capital had invested in several Indian startups over 2015-19. Albeit, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, run by Indian company One97 Communications Ltd with major investments from Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Ant Financial, has claimed that the government’s decision to ban Chinese apps is a “bold step in the national interest.” He tweeted, “A step towards Atmanirbhar App ecosystem. Time for the best Indian entrepreneurs to come forward and build the best by Indians, for Indians.”

Not just him, TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said in a social media post that the app is in the process of complying with the government order. “TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Further, if we are requested to in the future, we could not do so. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity”, Nikhil said, adding that they have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders to respond and submit clarifications.

Now we wonder what China has to say on this!

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