Indian intelligence agencies flag over 50 Chinese apps including TikTok: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 20, 2020

Indian intelligence agencies have red-flagged 52 mobile apps with ‘links to China’ over security concerns according to media reports.

The agencies have asked the government to either block these apps or issue advisory to stop people from using these apps over safety concerns. According to the agencies, these apps end up extracting a large amount of data from Indian users and send it to servers outside the country, Hindustan Times reported.

The National Security Council Secretariat has recently supported the list, the report said.

The list of apps popular video-sharing app TikTok, file sharing app Xender and SHAREit. It also includes a list of apps from one of India’s most popular smartphone brand, Xiaomi- Mi Community, Mi Store, Mi Video call-Xiaomi.

Apart from this, it also includes Clash of Kings, SHEIN, UC Browser, 360 Security, APUS Browser, Baidu Map, Baidu Translate, BeautyPlus, Bigo Live, CacheClear DU apps studio, Clean Master – Cheetah, ClubFactory, CM Browser, DU Battery Saver, DU Browser, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, DU recorder, ES File Explorer, Helo, Kwai, LIKE, Mail Master, NewsDog, Parallel Space, Perfect Corp, Photo Wonder, QQ International, QQ Launcher, QQ Mail, QQ Music, QQ NewsFeed, QQ Player, QQ Security Centre, ROMWE, SelfieCity, SHAREit, UC News, Vault-Hide, Vigo Video, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, WeChat, Weibo, WeSync, Wonder Camera, Xender and YouCam Makeup, News18 reported.

The list also includes Zoom which had been flagged by the Union Home Ministry that had issued an advisory against the app earlier this year. Zoom had said that they had been in discussion with the government and were bullish on security for the app as per previous reports.

Zoom however clarified that it had no links to China in an official statement. “There has been significant misinformation and blatant inaccuracies circulating about Zoom with regards to China from various channels. Zoom is a U.S. company, publicly traded on the NASDAQ, founded and headquartered in San Jose, California. In India, we’ve been proud to help businesses, government agencies, communities, school teachers, and other users stay connected during this global health crisis," the company said.

Apart from this, Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has also been flagged in the past over data security concerns.

Back in 2014, the Indian Air Force had sent a circular to its personnel warning them against the use of the device after a security firm had reported that the devices were pre-loaded with software to spy on users, the New Indian Express had reported. Furthermore, the same year, the company was criticized for sending user data to remote servers in China.

According to a Forbes report last month, Xiaomi had been allegedly recording and sending user data to remote servers according to a recent report by Forbes. The brand had denied any wrongdoing. The brand had said that they had moved their data related to Indian users on local servers back in 2018 as per previous reports.

Officials have argued that there are many mobile applications launched by developers in China that have posed security risks as they have the potential to be used as spyware or other malicious ware as per reports.

Western intelligence agencies have also raised concerns related to China-linked apps over the years.

Published on June 18, 2020

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