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.
Garena Free Fire: Illuminate, which is among the 54 apps that India is banning, has over 40M of its global ~70M monthly active users in India. The local team is surprised by the move, was exploring deals with tournament organizations in recent weeks. https://t.co/sRtBD61keN
— Manish Singh (@refsrc) February 14, 2022
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:
“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
- Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD
- Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera
- Equalizer – Bass Booster & Volume EQ & Virtualizer
- Music Player- Music, Mp3 Player
- Equalizer & Bass Booster – Music Volume EQ
- Music Plus – MP3 Player
- Equalizer Pro – Volume Booster & Bass Booster
- Video Player Media All Format
- Music Player – Equalizer & MP3
- Volume Booster – Loud Speaker & Sound Booster
- Music Player – MP3 Player
- CamCard for SalesForce Ent
- Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite
- Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade
- APUS Security HD (Pad Version)
- Parallel Space Lite 32 Support
- Viva Video Editor – Snack Video Maker with Music
- Nice video baidu
- Tencent Xriver
- Onmyoji Chess
- Onmyoji Arena
- Dual Space Lite – Multiple Accounts & Clone App
- Dual Space Pro – Multiple Accounts & App Cloner
- DualSpace Lite – 32Bit Support
- Dual Space – 32Bit Support
- Dual Space – 64Bit Support
- Dual Space Pro – 32Bit Support
- Conquer Online – MMORPG Game
- Conquer Online Il
- Live Weather & Radar – Alerts
- Notes- Color Notepad, Notebook
- MP3 Cutter – Ringtone Maker & Audio Cutter
- Voice Recorder & Voice Changer
- Barcode Scanner – OR Code Scan
- Lica Cam – selfie camera app
- EVE Echoes
- U Game Booster-network solution for high ping
- Extraordinary Ones
- Stick Fight: The Game Mobile
- Twilight Pioneers
- Cute: Match With The World
- Small World-Enjoy groupchat and video chat
- CuteU Pro
- FancyU – Video Chat & Meetup
- RealU: Go Live. Make Friends
- MoonChat: Enjoy Video Chats
- RealU Lite -video to live!
- Wink: Connect Now
- FunChat Meet People Around You
- FancyU pro – Instant Meetup through Video chat!
- Garena Free Fire – Illuminate
- App Ban Harms ‘Investment Environment’: Chinese Embassy On India Banning 118 Apps
- IT Parliamentary Standing Committee Questions MEITY, MHA On ‘Chinese’ App Ban, Aarogya Setu
- PUBG Officially Relaunched On Android, User Data Transferred From Tencent Version
- Why Would PUBG Mobile India Ping Servers In China After Languishing In Limbo For So Long?
- ShareChat’s Moj And MX Takatak Announce Merger, Signalling Consolidation In Short-Video Market
- Government Says It Is Open About Content Takedown Orders To Expose Inaction Of Platforms, But Is It Really Open?
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