Seeing the current circumstances, India was already apprehensive and skeptical for the number of Chinese products used by the Indian citizens. People were already angry, and a lot of them were demanding only Indian made products rather than ‘made in china’ products. Another thing which made the situation worst was the recent Indo-China war which took place at the Galwan Valley situated in Ladakh on 15th June 2020. The Indian Army reported that around 20 soldiers died due to the wounds caused by the Chinese army. Such a cold war is brewing between India and China, which has been witnessed almost after 45 years. On the other hand, China did not confirm any casualties but accused India of crossing the border onto the Chinese side. This Indo-China war attracted a lot of outrage from India towards China.
Though India imports many products from China, the growing tension between these two countries has no end, and things are certainly taking the wrong turn. Talking about the recent news, India finally decided to ban the use of 59 Chinese online applications which are very prominent in India and influence half of the population. The news of banning these apps came on 29th June and witnessed mixed reactions. One of the more popular app which is banned by the Indian Government is Tik Tok as it has huge stars following it. While some of the citizens are celebrating this decision, it is also important to note that Indians working with these brands will face unemployment issues soon. Such a decision is likely to increase the unemployment rates in the country as creators of many such apps are Indians, and many offices of these apps are located in India. Applications like Tik Tok and helo, which has over 100 million active followers and helps its stars to earn money, will now not be possible and might create certain problems.
Following are some of the most prominent applications that have been banned by the Indian Government:
The list is including, but not limited to:
- Tik Tok
- Club Factory
- Cam Scanner
- UC Browser
- Viva Video
Legalities involving the Ban
The ban has been enforced under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource”): “Where the Central Government or any of its officers specially authorised by it is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above, it may by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource.
Talking to The Ministry of Information and Technology it has revealed that they “have received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile applications for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”. Since this “ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures” the ministry has conveyed.
The ministry has accused these apps of stealing and secretly transmitting user’s data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have a location outside of India. If reports are to believed then-new IOS (Apple) found out that, these apps were receiving and recording information of the user even when it was not required. The ban will be implemented through, internet users, who are asked to block the respective applications on Google Play and Apple App Store. People who already have these apps installed in their phones might receive a message, stating that the government has banned the use of this application. However, such apps, which works even offline, may be available to the users after the ban too.
This isn't the first time Chinese apps have been banned in India. In 2017, Alibaba's UC Browser had come under the scanner for allegedly leaking mobile data of Indian users. And that year, India's defence ministry asked all armed personnel and officers to uninstall 42 Chinese apps it classified as "spyware", according to media reports. Even the Tik Tok was banned on the order of Madras HC for a few days in the year 2019. However, once the ban was lifted, Tik Tok was again widely used.
All these situations have led to a rift between India and China. Such a decision taken by the Indian Government may further deteriorate the relationship between the two countries. However, the safety of the country is a priority. It is also important to note that it will not only affect the Chinese producers, but it will also have a huge impact on the Indian Economy.
At present, it is not illegal to use the banned Chinese apps, so there is no fine levied at the moment for the usage of the apps. The Government has not issued any guidelines relating to the ban and hence there is ambiguity as to the usage of these apps post the ban.
However, as this ban is invoked under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, as per the act, an individual who fails to comply with the direction issued can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.
While the apps that are pre-installed on the phones, will continue working for some time, they will no longer receive any updates in India as they will be removed from the Play Store.
Due to the rising situation between India and China, this decision seemed necessary. To protect the sovereignty and integrity of India, which are the essentials of the Preamble of India, it was important to limit or ban the use of such applications that not only stole the information but also could potentially circulate it.
Tik Tok is one of the most widely used application all over the country, it has been in talks with the government and is likely to conduct a meeting with the concerned authorities to prove that Tik Tok complies with all the rules and regulations of the Indian Law, including the Preamble of India. As the ban is just a day old, its enforcement and its impact is yet to be witnessed and reported.