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Indian government bans additional 54 apps linked to China: Report

With this, the total number of China-linked apps that have been banned in the country crosses 300 in just two years.

India, China
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The Indian government has issued an order banning 54 apps linked to China stating that they pose a threat to the privacy and security of Indians, Economic Times reported on February 14.

The list of banned apps, as shared by Bar and Bench, includes popular battle royale game Garena Free Fire, which disappeared from app stores over the weekend, and rebranded versions of many apps that were banned in 2020.

The Press Information Bureau told MediaNama that they are yet to receive any official statement regarding this from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and the ministry told MediaNama that they have no information to provide. Google, however, told ET:

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“On receipt of the interim order passed under Section 69A of the IT Act, following established process, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India.” – Google

The banned apps are no longer accessible in Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India, MediaNama has verified.

Commenting on the ban, an unnamed government official told Economic Times:

“Many of the apps from the stable of Tencent and Alibaba, have changed hands to hide ownership. They are also being hosted out of countries like Hong Kong or Singapore, but the data was ultimately going to servers in Chinese destinations […] even apps such as ByteDance-owned TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat were available for download through alternative means such as APK files, and the government has taken cognizance of it.”

With this latest order, the government has banned 321 China-linked apps since 2020:

  • June 2020: 59 apps including TikTok, WeChat, Shareit, UCBrowser, and Clash of Kings. The ban on TikTok led to the rapid growth of Indian shot-video apps such as Moj and MX Takatak.
  • July 2020: 47 apps, many of which were clones of the apps banned in June.
  • September 2020: 118 apps including popular gaming app PUBG, but the game has since made a comeback by cutting ties with its Chinese partners.
  • November 2020: 43 apps include many apps from the Alibaba universe, Snack Video, CamCard, and others.

All these bans have been issued under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000; in 2020, the bans came amidst heightened tensions between India and China along the border, while this time around there doesn’t appear to be any such external event.

The list of the 54 banned apps

  1. Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD
  2. Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera
  3. Equalizer – Bass Booster & Volume EQ & Virtualizer
  4. Music Player- Music, Mp3 Player
  5. Equalizer & Bass Booster – Music Volume EQ
  6. Music Plus – MP3 Player
  7. Equalizer Pro – Volume Booster & Bass Booster
  8. Video Player Media All Format
  9. Music Player – Equalizer & MP3
  10. Volume Booster – Loud Speaker & Sound Booster
  11. Music Player – MP3 Player
  12. CamCard for SalesForce Ent
  13. Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite
  14. Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade
  15. APUS Security HD (Pad Version)
  16. Parallel Space Lite 32 Support
  17. Viva Video Editor – Snack Video Maker with Music
  18. Nice video baidu
  19. Tencent Xriver
  20. Onmyoji Chess
  21. Onmyoji Arena
  22. AppLock
  23. Dual Space Lite – Multiple Accounts & Clone App
  24. Dual Space Pro – Multiple Accounts & App Cloner
  25. DualSpace Lite – 32Bit Support
  26. Dual Space – 32Bit Support
  27. Dual Space – 64Bit Support
  28. Dual Space Pro – 32Bit Support
  29. Conquer Online – MMORPG Game
  30. Conquer Online Il
  31. Live Weather & Radar – Alerts
  32. Notes- Color Notepad, Notebook
  33. MP3 Cutter – Ringtone Maker & Audio Cutter
  34. Voice Recorder & Voice Changer
  35. Barcode Scanner – OR Code Scan
  36. Lica Cam – selfie camera app
  37. EVE Echoes
  38. Astracraft
  39. U Game Booster-network solution for high ping
  40. Extraordinary Ones
  41. Badlanders
  42. Stick Fight: The Game Mobile
  43. Twilight Pioneers
  44. Cute: Match With The World
  45. Small World-Enjoy groupchat and video chat
  46. CuteU Pro
  47. FancyU – Video Chat & Meetup
  48. RealU: Go Live. Make Friends
  49. MoonChat: Enjoy Video Chats
  50. RealU Lite -video to live!
  51. Wink: Connect Now
  52. FunChat Meet People Around You
  53. FancyU pro – Instant Meetup through Video chat!
  54. Garena Free Fire – Illuminate

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