The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has blocked another set of mobile applications, taking the total number of mobile apps blocked by the government to 267 as of date. The 43 apps banned on Tuesday include apps from the Alibaba universe, Snack Video, CamCard and others.
“This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. MEITY said that it “issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs.” It added that the government is committed to protect the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that.
Back in June this year, the government blocked 59 apps, all from Chinese companies like TikTok, Shein, Clash of Kings, Shareit under under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Further, in July it banned 47 other apps and in September it added another 118 mobile apps to its list of banned apps.
While apps like PUBG are tinkering with their financial and operational structure to re-enter India, the short-video messaging app TikTok has been scouring the globe for investors to take over their operations in the United States and India including Softbank and Oracle.
In October, the Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research wrote to the IT Ministry alleging that short video application Snack Video was actually just a rebranded version of Kwai, one of the 59 apps that were banned in June.
MediaNama’s take (by Nikhil Pahwa): India’s ban of an additional 43 Chinese apps doesn’t come as a surprise. There are a few key points to consider here:
- India is keen to assert it’s sovereignty over the Indian internet, and in banning these apps, it is saying that Chinese apps are not welcome. We don’t know whether this is a temporary measure, dependent on the situation at the Line of Actual control, where Indian and Chinese forces are facing off, or whether it is a permanent measure.
- Many of the apps that have been banned over the past few months had millions of Indian users. China can exert control over Chinese apps and ensure that they act as an extension of the state, and thus pose a national security threat to India. A decision to ban Chinese apps must have taken this into account. In democracies, governments cannot exert such control over their companies. India is not isolationist in its approach to the Internet, but it needs to protect its sovereignty. The rules have to be different when dealing with democracies, versus when dealing with totalitarian regimes. Our openness cannot be our weakness.
- Under the law that India has used to ban these apps, the government could have kept the ban and the names of the apps secret. It is very clear that they wanted it to be known that these apps are being banned. In a way, India is sending a message to China that they can’t be the aggressors militarily, and expect access to the Indian market for their investment and business at the same time. Let’s not forget that earlier this year, India imposed regulations on investments from countries with which it shares a border.
A list of the 43 banned apps on Tuesday:
- AliSuppliers Mobile App
- Alibaba Workbench
- AliExpress – Smarter Shopping, Better Living
- Alipay Cashier
- Lalamove India – Delivery App
- Drive with Lalamove India
- Snack Video
- CamCard – Business Card Reader
- CamCard – BCR (Western)
- Soul- Follow the soul to find you
- Chinese Social – Free Online Dating Video App & Chat
- Date in Asia – Dating & Chat For Asian Singles
- WeDate-Dating App
- Free dating app-Singol, start your date!
- Adore App
- TrulyChinese – Chinese Dating App
- TrulyAsian – Asian Dating App
- ChinaLove: dating app for Chinese singles
- DateMyAge: Chat, Meet, Date Mature Singles Online
- AsianDate: find Asian singles
- FlirtWish: chat with singles
- Guys Only Dating: Gay Chat
- Tubit: Live Streams
- First Love Live- super hot live beauties live online
- Rela – Lesbian Social Network
- Cashier Wallet
- MGTV-HunanTV official TV APP
- WeTV – TV version
- WeTV – Cdrama, Kdrama&More
- WeTV Lite
- Lucky Live-Live Video Streaming App
- Taobao Live
- Identity V
- Isoland 2: Ashes of Time
- BoxStar (Early Access)
- Heroes Evolved
- Happy Fish
- Jellipop Match-Decorate your dream island！
- Munchkin Match: magic home building
- Conquista Online II
**Update (November 24, 2020 7:58 pm): Incorrectly reported that 188 apps were banned in September this year, the government had banned 118 mobile apps. The error is regretted.
**Update (November 24, 2020 6:51 pm): Updated with a statement from Nikhil Pahwa, founder, editor and publisher, MediaNama. Originally published on November 24, 2020 at 5:59 pm.