The Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said on Monday it had received numerous complaints regarding the misuse and transmission of user data by certain mobile applications to servers outside India.
“The compilation of this data, its extraction and its profiling by elements hostile to the national security and the defense of India, which end up encroaching on the sovereignty and the integrity of India, is a very deep question and immediate action that requires emergency measures, “said the ministry. said, listing 59 apps, including many important Chinese apps that will be subject to the ban.
Although the Indian government’s statement did not mention China by name, the ban comes as military tensions between the two countries continue to escalate following deadly border clashes earlier this month which left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. Many Indians have called for a boycott of Chinese goods and services, particularly of China’s dominant technology industry.
“There has been a strong refrain in the public arena to take strict measures against applications that harm India’s sovereignty and the privacy of our citizens,” added the government. Other popular Chinese apps on the list include the video game Clash of Kings, the WeChat messaging application, the Weibo social network and the CamScanner photo application.
TikTok, the hugely popular video platform owned by Chinese tech giant Bytedance, has around 120 million users in India, making it one of its largest markets.
Building local management teams in countries like India has been “essential to our global success,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
“The ByteDance team of approximately 2,000 employees in India is committed to working with the government to demonstrate our dedication to user safety and our commitment to the country as a whole,” said the statement.
It is not the first time that TikTok has encountered problems with the Indian government. The app was briefly blocked in India last year after a court ruled that it could expose children to sexual predators, pornography and cyberbullying. The app was reinstated a week later after successfully appealing the court’s decision.
As India’s diplomatic tensions with China begin to have a ripple effect on business and technology, complete decoupling may be easier said than done. China dominates India’s huge Internet market – the second largest in the world, with nearly 600 million users – in both hardware and software. Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus represent more than half of the Indian smartphone market, according to industry figures, and Chinese tech giants Ali Baba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY) are major investors in some of the most valuable startups in the country.
However, the ban will be “a blow to the Chinese application industry which loses a solid installed base outside its country of origin”, according to the research firm Canalys.