Indian flag is displayed on a laptop screen and a symbol of "block" and Chinese flag are displayed on a smart phone screen
Image Courtesy: Hakan Nural

India bans 54 Chinese apps over security threat and privacy risks

The Indian government has banned 54 additional Chinese-origin apps and games, with publishers and tech companies including Tencent, Alibaba, NetEase, and others being directly impacted by this latest crackdown.

 Indian flag is displayed on a laptop screen and a symbol of "block" and Chinese flag are displayed on a smart phone screen
Image Courtesy: Hakan Nural

These 54 apps, according to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), reportedly get countless critical permissions and extract sensitive user data. They went on to say that the recorded real-time data is being exploited and is being sent to servers in a hostile country. The ministry further said that the banned apps were allegedly engaged in actions that were damaging to the country’s sovereignty and integrity, as well as posing a major threat to the state’s security and defense. The IT ministry has issued interim orders for banning the operations of 54 apps in India.

Google has confirmed that the government has issued an order banning access to the aforementioned apps. “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,” the Google spokesman said.

The crackdown is the first of its kind this year, following a major sweep against Chinese apps in 2020. The government banned over 59 apps with Chinese links, including the immensely popular PUBG, TikTok, and UC Browser, in June 2020, alleging they were detrimental to the country’s sovereignty, integrity, and security. There are also other serious concerns, according to MeitY, because some of these apps can conduct espionage and surveillance activities via camera/microphone, access precise locations using GPS, and engage in harmful network activity similarly to previously blocked apps.

The list of banned mobile apps includes:

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