The government of India has permanently banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance’s short video app TikTok, WeChat, Baidu, Alibaba’s UC Browser, Club Factory, BIGO Live and others. In June last year, the government had censored these apps. By the end of 2020, a total of 267 apps originating from China were banned in batches. PUBG, a popular mobile game, was also banned as a Chinese company owned shares in the game though it is owned and developed by PUBG Corporation, a South Korean gaming company.
The original action was initiated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), Government of India, under Section 69A of the IT Act, stating that these apps are engaging in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.
Government not satisfied with the answers
As per the reports, the government was not satisfied with the response given by these companies to the notices issued in June last year. Thus, the government has initiated the process to ban these apps permanently and issued fresh notices.
A spokesperson of TikTok said that the company is evaluating the notice, and they would respond to it as appropriate. “TikTok was among the first companies to comply with the government of India directive issued on June 29, 2020. We continually strive to comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns the government may have. Ensuring the privacy and security of all our users remains to be our topmost priority,” the statement further added.
The void filled by Indian apps
After several popular Chinese apps were banned in the Indian Internet space, it gave way to Indian app developers to showcase their potential to the users. For example, the Chinese document scanning app CamScanner was banned by the Indian government that provided a large market for apps like Kaagaz Scanner to fill up the void. Similarly, non-Indian entities like Google, Facebook and others took the opportunity to fill the void for TikTok and launched special features in their apps (YouTube and Instagram) to create short videos just like the banned Chinese app.
A boost to Atmanirbhar Bharat
The government of India is also promoting India-made mobile applications and encouraging developers to develop solutions for Indian markets in several categories, including productivity, games and entertainment. In July 2020, the government had introduced Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge that received close to 7,000 entries from individual developers and companies from across the country.