Summary List Placement
The Indian government has blocked a further 118 Chinese mobile apps, citing national security concerns, amid rising tensions between the neighbouring countries.
Among the apps is the video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” published by Chinese tech giant Tencent, which has more than 50 million players in India. Tencent’s stock fell 2% on the news.
Other banned apps include messaging site WeChat Work, search engine Baidu, and Alibaba’s payment app, Alipay.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement that the decision would ensure the safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace. Some mobile apps on Android and iOS were stealing users’ data and transferring it outside India, it claimed.
China’s commerce industry spokesman Gao Feng condemned the decision, and asked India to “correct their mistakes.”
India banned 59 apps in June, including the video sharing platform TikTok, the most downloaded app in the country. This ban followed the clash of Indian and Chinese troops on the nations’ Himalayan border, in which 20 Indian soldiers died.
Local media reported that an Indian soldier was killed earlier this week by a Chinese landmine on the border.
‘Inspired by geopolitics’
Samuel Woodhams, digital rights researcher at London-based internet research firm Top10VPN, told Business Insider the “piecemeal nature” of app restrictions in India suggests the ban “is inspired as much by geopolitical interests as any genuine cybersecurity concern.”
He predicted the ban would hurt app developers – but said Indian citizens would try to find ways around the ban, such as downloading VPN apps and proxy networks to change their app store locations.
“Predicting the accessibility of Chinese-owned apps in India and beyond is incredibly difficult at the moment,” he said. “However, heightened geopolitical tensions between the US and China, as well as India and China, certainly suggests that this is unlikely to be the last group of Chinese-owned apps to be banned around the world.”