Sunday, January 24, 2021

India's Government Bans 43 More Chinese Smartphone Apps

The Indian government on Tuesday said it had banned another 43 Chinese smartphone apps, citing national security concerns.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it was banning the Chinese applications “based on inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities prejudicial to India’s sovereignty, integrity, defense, security and public order.”

India’s central government is empowered to block public access to any website or mobile app that engages in such activities under section 69A of India’s Information Technology Act.

The banned applications include numerous offerings by Chinese multinational tech conglomerate Alibaba Group, such as the e-commerce apps AliSuppliers, Ali Express, Alipay Cashier, and Alibaba Workbench. The ban also includes several dating apps, according to the Indian Express.

India banned 177 Chinese-based apps this past summer and terminated numerous business contracts with companies in China amid an ongoing border standoff between the two Asian neighbors over their disputed boundary in the western Himalayas. Since it began in mid-June, the conflict has caused increased economic tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, including a general boycott across India of Chinese products.

As part of the boycott, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese-based apps on June 29, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok. On September 2, the government further banned an additional 118 Chinese apps. The previous two bans cited section 69A of India’s Information Technology Act, which the government also referred to on Tuesday to justify its latest blacklist.

Indian tech entrepreneur Dr. Ajay Data, the founder and CEO of India’s VideoMeet App, issued a statement on Tuesday praising the Indian government for the latest Chinese app ban, according to the Indian Express. He said that India’s tech user base is also “supporting the authorities on this front due to the geopolitical tensions our country is facing, and the realization of how data breaching can impact their businesses in [the] long-run has also strengthened.”

Data said the Chinese app bans come at “an opportune time for Indian tech and IT community, to work towards making India’s IT framework more resilient. This support to homegrown apps will help us in going global. This is also great for the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission of Govt of India [sic].”

Data referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Self-Reliant India” initiative, which encourages India to become more independent in terms of its trade and manufacturing. India’s China boycott, which inspired the app bans, has been bolstered by the government’s “Self-Reliant India” program, launched by Modi in April in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Modi said the pandemic had exposed India’s overreliance upon China for trade and manufacturing and urged Indian businesses to focus on domestic supply chain development.

Gabrielle Reyes

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