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India Bans 47 Chinese Apps, Over 250 Under Scanner Over Data Privacy Violation

India Bans 47 Chinese Apps, Over 250 Under Scanner Over Data Privacy Violation

Newly banned ones were operating as the clones of the 59 Chinese apps

The govt may have also listed 275 Chinese apps like PUBG, Resso, Zili and AliExpress, to be banned

PUBG has more than 175 Mn installs in India, which is 24% of its worldwide downloads

The government has decided to ban another 47 apps that were operating as the clones of the 59 Chinese apps banned last month. According to media reports, these apps were violating India’s data protocol and were compromising the data safety of users.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT’s new ban is aimed at those apps that were facilitating access to previously banned services such as TikTok and Cam Scanner. The new apps to be banned includes Cam Scanner Advance.

The move comes as the government contemplates restricting access to several more Chinese apps and services. The government has now drawn up a list of another 275 Chinese apps, to be examined for possible violations of national security and user privacy.

The list includes popular gaming app PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), backed by Chinese internet company Tencent, short video sharing application Zili, which is owned by phone-maker Xiaomi, AliExpress by ecommerce giant Alibaba, as well as apps like Resso and ULike from TikTok-owner ByteDance.

“The government may ban all, some or none from the list,” a source close to the development told Economic Times. 

In the recent past, Chinese apps have been flagged for alleged violations of data privacy norms. Following the ban on 59 Chinese apps, including popular ones such as ByteDance-owned TikTok and Alibaba-owned UC Browser, some of the banned applications hinted at moving their data servers to India, to assuage the government’s concerns over data security violations. 

Of those in the new list of 275 Chinese apps to be scrutinised, PUBG finds its largest market in India, having generated about 175 Mn installs to date or 24% of its worldwide downloads, according to App intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimates. 

Further, short video sharing app Zili has bucked the trend of Indians moving towards ‘Made in India’ applications in the aftermath of the ban on TikTok last month. Despite the presence of ‘Indian’ alternatives to TikTok such as Trell, Mitron and Chingari, Chinese app Zili has seen a 167% growth in downloads in India since the ban on Chinese apps took effect on June 29. The app has seen its India downloads grow from 3 Mn to 8 Mn in the three weeks since the ban.

Meanwhile, Chinese app-makers and tech companies aren’t just facing the ire of the Indian government for data privacy concerns. The government has reportedly identified seven Chinese companies alleged to be having links with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. These include big companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, among others. 

Rising geopolitical tensions between the two countries, since border clashes between the two armies in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley last month, are now manifesting in trade and economic ties, with members of the Indian political brass calling for a boycott of Chinese products and services.