The Indian government on Monday banned 59 Chinese-developed apps citing “national security” concerns, TechCrunch reported.
TikTok tops the list of banned Chinese apps released by India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT on Monday night. India is TikTok’s largest overseas market and the world’s second-largest Internet market.
India’s Ministry of Information Technology issued an official press release announcing the ban, which said that “in view of the emergent nature of threats [the ministry] has decided to block 59 apps … engaged in activities … prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state, and public order.”
The statement further explained that the ministry 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 unauthorized manner to servers … outside India.”
The ban will impact an estimated one in three smartphone users in India, according to the report.
The announcement comes two weeks after Chinese border troops reportedly ambushed an Indian border regiment in the Galwan Valley, located in India’s northeastern Ladakh state in the western Himalayas. The two sides engaged in brutal hand-to-hand combat that killed 2o Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese, as Beijing refuses to offer that information. Since then, support for a boycott of Chinese products, which already existed before the attack, has gained considerable momentum among Indians.
Last week, reports indicated that Indian port authorities were holding up imports coming from China as part of the boycott, a move which the Chinese Communist Party confirmed on Tuesday when responding to the app ban through its propaganda mouthpiece the Global Times:
In just two weeks’ time, the Indian policymakers at national and regional levels have … delayed customs clearance for goods from China … and moved on Monday night to ban a total of 59 apps of Chinese origin, including the hugely popular TikTok … on “national security” grounds.
The push for a boycott of Chinese tech products in India has so far been met with resistance from the big tech industry. In May, India blocked China’s TikTok app “for promoting pornography content and over privacy concerns,” the Indian Express reports, “but it was relisted on [Google] Play Store and [Apple] App Store in a few days.” Days later, an Indian app called “Remove China Apps” briefly became one of the most popular apps in the country before Google swiftly deleted it from its Play Store, claiming the app “violated its guidelines.”
Monday’s official ban stated that India was “invoking its power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act,” an assertive move by the government designed to signal to China and big tech that the second-most populous nation in the world is determined to stand firm in its sovereignty.
Prior to the ban, TikTok had over 200 million monthly active users in India, according to TechCrunch.