Source: Business Standard, Nov 25, 2020
Bengaluru: In another blow to Chinese apps functioning in India, the government has banned 43 more apps in the country, including the popular online retail portal AliExpress, belonging to Jack Ma-owned e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) on Tuesday issued the order for blocking the access to these apps under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
“This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” it said in an official statement. The decision was taken based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, Meity said.
Other popular apps on the list include Snack Video, a short video app which was gaining traction after the earlier ban on TikTok, and Alipay Cashier, which helped users collect payments from Alipay by scanning a QR Code. AliExpress and Snack Video have over a 100 million downloads each on Google Play Store. While shopping apps like Shien and Club Factory were blocked weeks ago, AliExpress had evaded the ban earlier. This time, over a dozen Chinese dating apps, including Chinese Social and We Date, have also been red-flagged by the country.
“This was due for a while now and even more could be in the pipeline. E-commerce, payments and online dating are the primarily targeted infrastructures that have access to quite a lot of critical consumer information. What needs to be seen is whether Indian alternatives can replace these existing platforms with profits rather than just replace them with a burn,” said Ankit Chaudhari, CEO & founder, Aiisma, a data marketplace.
Some industry players claimed that some of these apps were banned earlier as well but they cloaked themselves under a new identity to enter the Indian market again. “The ban is a very smart move and sends out a clear message that Chinese apps can’t use such tactics to engage in activities that are prejudicial to India’s sovereignty,” said Sumit Ghosh, CEO and co-founder of Chingari, which claims to have the highest engagement time in the short-form video space in India.
Experts say the biggest security concern is that a lot of apps on smartphones collect massive amounts of data which has nothing to do with the services they provide. “As the threat to secure user data is increasing, users must make sure their mobile phones are protected, secured and encrypted,” said Aditya Narang, co-founder & managing director, SafeHouse Technologies, a cyber security tech enterprise. Overall, the government has banned 220 apps since June amid continuing tensions along the India-Chinese border. These include PUBG, WeChat and Alipay. After being banned for over two months in India, the creators of PUBG are preparing to launch PUBG Mobile India, a mobile version of the popular game, to cater to the India market. According to reports, PUBG Corp has registered an Indian subsidiary in Bengaluru indicating a relaunch in the country soon.