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Explained: Why did the govt ban more China-linked apps?

The government has banned 54 more apps which have either originated in China or have some Chinese connection. What are these apps, and why have they been banned?

Written by Aashish Aryan , Soumyarendra Barik , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 15, 2022 8:33:20 am
Garena Free Fire- Illuminate, a game, which had gained popularity among children, teenagers and youth in India after the ban on PUBG, has also been banned. (Image credit: screenshot from Garena website)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Monday issued orders to ban 54 more apps, which either have originated in China or have some Chinese connection. These apps were banned for being a threat to national security.

What are these new apps and why have they been banned?

As per the new list, video editing apps such as Viva Video Editor- Snack Video Maker with Music and Nice Video Baidu, which are used extensively for making short videos, games such as Onmyoji Chess and Conquer Online II have been banned in India. Garena Free Fire– Illuminate, a game, which had gained popularity among children, teenagers and youth in India after the ban on PUBG, has also been banned.

The new apps, IT ministry officials said, have been banned using emergency powers under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act. Most of these apps, the officials said, were operating as clones or shadow apps of the apps that had earlier been banned by the government.

The ban on these apps was recommended by the Ministry of Home Affairs, IT ministry officials said, adding that they have also been removed from the Google PlayStore. In its statement, Google said that it temporarily blocked access to the apps in India.

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“On receipt of the interim order passed under Section 69A of the IT Act, following established process, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Which other apps have been banned by the government in the past?

In June 2020, the IT ministry had, in a similar order issued under Section 69 of the IT Act, banned 59 apps, including TikTok, ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, and Bigo Live. In its reasoning then, the ministry had said that these apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

The first ban was followed by another set of 47 apps being barred from operations in India from July 2020. These apps were mostly proxies of the apps banned in June 2020.

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Later, on September 2 that year, the IT ministry banned another 118 Chinese mobile apps, which included the popular gaming platform PUBG as well as Baidu, which is China’s largest search engine provider. In total so far, close to 300 apps and their proxies have been banned by the IT ministry.

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First published on: 14-02-2022 at 02:36:57 pm
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