India bans TikTok in purge of 59 Chinese apps

Ladakh clash Centre blocks 59 apps with Chinese links including TikTok We Chat and Cam Scanner

A logo of social media app Tik Tok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in Arlington Virginia United States on April 13. | Olivier Douliery AFP

It is estimated that 120million people in India use TikTok which makes the country the biggest worldwide market for the app.

The Indian government on Monday evening said it was banning 59 apps developed by Chinese firms over concerns that these apps were "engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, and security of state and public order" in what is the latest standoff between the two most populated nations in the world.

Ministry of Information Technology took the step "in view of the emergent nature of threats", officials said.

"The Ministry of Information Technology has 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 unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India".

Chinese mobiles have an nearly 65 percent share in the local smartphone market, while video-sharing apps like TikTok and Helo are popular among India's youths. Apparently, the decision has been taken for apps "which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace", the ministry said.

Among other apps that have been banned are Tencent's WeChat, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times on Google's Android, Alibaba's UC Browser and two of Xiaomi's apps.

Credit Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
Credit Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

This is not the first time that TikTok has been banned in India.

The ban was lifted after a few weeks.

Both India and China deployed more troops to the Ladakh region in June, and minor clashes have left at least 20 Indian troops dead.

While India did not point directly at China in the ministry's comments on the ban, the overwhelming majority of the outlawed applications are of Chinese origin.

Anti-China sentiment has long simmered in India over accusations of cheap imports flooding the country, but the border clash has brought tensions to the fore with calls being made to boycott Chinese products.

New Delhi has accused China of intruding into its territory in the region, a charge Beijing has denied.

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