Why Were TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps Banned?

Why Were TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps banned?

As per an official notice circulated by Ministry of Home Affairs, TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps have been banned from Monday evening by Ministry of Electronics and IT. They further added how these apps violated the privacy of Indian citizens. This move has further added fuel to the fire felt between Indo-China at Galwan face-off and trade war.

Crux of the Matter

Which Apps Are No Longer With Us?
The most popular ones to be banned and that can take a big hit for the Chinese firms include:
Social Media apps like Byte Dance’s TikTok, that considers India as its biggest market, and Halo
Community and Video Call apps like Designed by Xiaomi, India’s top smartphone vendor
Utility apps like UC Browser, ES File Explorer, Clean Master, CamScanner
Beauty apps like YouCam Makeup and Beauty Plus
Cross-platform sharing app like ShareIt, Xender, and E-Commerce app Shein
News apps like Newsdog, UC News, QQ Newsfeed
Games like Clash of Kings, Mobile Legends
Communication apps like WeChat, WeMeet
Photo & video apps like Sweet Selfie, Wonder Camera, Viva Video
Security apps like QQ Security Center, and DU Privacy

Why Did They Do It
These apps developed in China were called out for “engaging in activities that were prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity to India, defence of India and security of the state and public order.”

Long story short, there were reports of a security breach and data privacy violations from citizens in responses received by Computer Emergency Response Team. (CERT-IN)

Who All Will Be Affected?
According to a mobile insights firm, 27 of these apps were in India’s most downloaded 1000 apps last month.

What Did TikTok Do?
With TikTok having more than 120 million monthly active users, their fanbase would be most affected unless given an alternative. However what the disappointed fans don’t know is how their data was secretly being transferred to servers outside India, in an unauthorized manner.

What Did TikTok Really Do?
Recently, TikTok faced backlash for videos on domestic violence, animal cruelty, racism, and objectification of women on the platform. A Reddit user bangorlol, who claimed to have reverse engineered TikTok, said “It is a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device…well they are using it”. The user also claims that TikTok snoops on users’ GPS location and also it can remotely change logging capabilities without user permission. Apple recently discovered that TikTok was accessing the users’ clipboard data. So if the user copied any text or image anywhere on the phone, TikTok accessed it.

Rising Tensions
Since 5 May 2020, Indian and Chinese Army troops have been engaging in violent face-offs at locations along the Sino-Indian border. Subsequently, International trade between India and China has been affected by the suspension of business deals and halting goods at ports in both countries.

This has been highlighted with #BoycottChina movement rampant online that calls for a boycott of Chinese Goods and urges consumers to buy the ones made in India.

  • In 2018, ByteDance shutdown its first product Neihan Duanzi after the Chinese govt strongly criticized it for “triggering strong sentiments of resentment among internet users”.
  • Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming accepted that the app was incommensurate with socialist core values, promised to deepen cooperation to promote govt policies.
  • It also said that it would hire Chinese Communist Party members and increase its censors to 10,000 employees.