The government on Monday officially banned 59 mobile apps, including those used often in India such as TikTok, Shareit, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), Cam Scanner, UC Browser and Helo, which come preloaded in many smartphones.
This ban was in the offing after clashes erupted between the Chinese and Indian troops in Galwan valley in Ladakh a few weeks ago.
In a statement, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said it had 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 unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.
Therefore, the Ministry was invoking its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and, in view of the emergent nature of threats, has decided to block 59 apps to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of India.
The Ministry has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps, MeitY said in the statement.
"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," it said.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps, it said.
The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues, it said.
Some other apps that have been banned include Kwai, Baidu map, DU battery saver, Likee, YouCam makeup, Mi Community, Virus Cleaner, Club Factory, Newsdog, WeChat, Weibo, Xender,We Meet, Sweet Selfie, Baidu Translate and QQ Launcher.
"This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and Internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace," MeitY added.