On Jan.25, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology raised a permanent ban on 59 Chinese applications, including ByteDance’s Tik Tok, Tencent’s WeChat, Baidu, Alibaba’s UC Browser, digital e-commerce app Club Factory, Xiaomi’s Mi Video Call, and BIGO Live.
The Indian government had temporarily banned these apps in June last year due to a violation of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, saying “they are ‘engaged in activities, which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, the security of the state and public order’.”
According to the Times of India, the firms were first asked to respond to a detailed questionnaire sent by the ministry to explain how are they would comply with India’s privacy and security requirements. However, the temporary ban turned into a permanent ban as reported late on Monday.
“The government is not satisfied with the response/explanation given by these companies. Hence, the ban for these 59 apps is permanent now,” said a person familiar with the matter to Livemint. The source further added that this notice was issued last week.
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Border tensions between India and China appear to have expanded to the technology sector despite several rounds of diplomatic negotiations. Over the last six months, the Indian administration banned 208 Chinese apps over similar privacy concerns.
A TikTok spokesperson commented on the Indian government’s move, saying: “We are evaluating the notice and will 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 our topmost priority.”
A Xiaomi representative also commented on the issue, arguing: “Mi India is in compliance with all government orders and will continue to do so and engage with relevant stakeholders for the same.”