Sunday, 05 July 2020

India’s ban on Chinese apps could reshape mobile app ecosystem

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 30 June 20

The order issued on Monday blocked 59 Chinese apps on the grounds of national security

  Monday saw India deal a sharp digital blow to China by banning 59 of their apps, including TikTok and WeChat, on the grounds that they are mining Indian users’ data.   The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that the issue was of “very deep and immediate concern&rdquo…

 

Monday saw India deal a sharp digital blow to China by banning 59 of their apps, including TikTok and WeChat, on the grounds that they are mining Indian users’ data.

 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that the issue was of “very deep and immediate concern” and required “emergency measures” to ensure national security. 

 

The order has been sent not only to the targetted app companies, but also the to relevant intermediaries, such as app stores and ISPs. Apple, for one, said that they were reviewing the order but would likely comply with its stipulations. TikTok, who has 200 million Indian users, is similarly reportedly in the process of complying.

 

A meeting between app stakeholders and the government is scheduled to take place, but it seems unlikely that anything the app companies can say will halt the ban entirely, which may lead some to seek legal action as a result.  

 

While this ban stems primarily from a recent clash between Indian and Chinese forces in a disputed region of the Himalayas, which resulted in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers, unrest between the two nations has been building for some time. Back in April, New Delhi introduced restrictions on foreign investment to prevent what it called ‘opportunistic takeovers’, which could arise as a result of financial stress caused by the pandemic. 

 

The political machinations behind the ban become more apparent when we consider that the ban includes apps like Tencent’s QQ Mail and QQ Player, which are primarily intended for use by Chinese speakers. The removal of apps like these will cause little disruption to India’s app ecosystem, but the same cannot be said for the short video apps such as TikTok and Likee, with their removal opening the door for domestic rivals like ShareChat and Roposo to swoop in.

 

The full list of banned apps can be found in the following tweet: 

 

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