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Govt bans 54 Chinese apps over security threat concerns

By, New Delhi
Feb 14, 2022 11:07 AM IST

The Union ministry of information technology will reportedly ban apps belonging to large Chinese tech firms such as Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase, that are re-branded versions of apps already banned by India in 2020.

The Government of India is set to issue a ban on 54 Chinese applications that pose a threat to India’s security.

Representational image.

The Union ministry of electronics and information technology said it had received a request from the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for blocking the 54 apps under the emergency provision envisaged in Section 69(A) of the IT Act.

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Among the apps being banned are Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera - Selfie Camera, Equalizer & Bass Booster, CamCard for SalesForce Ent, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, AppLock and Dual Space Lite.

According to a report shared by MHA, these apps are either a cloned version or have similar functionality, privacy issues and security threats as alleged in previously blocked 267 apps by the Centre in 2020, the ministry said said.

The Centre had  blocked 59 apps on June  29, 2020, followed by a ban on 47 related/cloning apps on August 10, 2020. Thereafter, 118 apps were blocked on  September 1, 2020, and another 43 apps on November 19, the same year. 

The ministry said the 54 apps allegedly obtain various critical permissions and collects sensitive user data.  “These collected real-time data are being misused and transmitted to servers located in hostile country. This will enable them to compile huge personal data to mine, collate, analyse and profile by the elements who are hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of India and for activities detrimental to national security,” the IT ministry said in a statement.

“In addition, there are other serious concerns as some of these apps can carry out espionage and surveillance activities via camera/mic, accessing fine location (GPS) and do malicious network activity similar to previously blocked apps. These apps were allegedly engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of the country also posing serious threat to security of the state and defence of India,” it added.  

The latest move could be an instance of the tensions between the two neighbouring nations locked in a protracted border dispute impacting business dealings.

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