Amid the massive Boycott outcry after the clash in the Galwan region between the Indian and Chinese troops, The government of India announces a ban on 59 Chinese Apps citing the privacy and security concerns of the Indian defence and citizens.
The IT Ministry has banned popular apps like TIk-Tok, Uc browser, ShareIt, Likee, WeChat along with 54 others. The Ministry stated that they were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.” The Ministry used 69A of the Information Technology Act to impose the ban.
However, this will impact only those apps which require live feed like Tik-Tok, UC news, etc. Other apps with no requirement of internet connection like ShareIt, ES file explorer, etc. will still be operable, but further downloads and updates are likely to be blocked from App stores. Although the already installed apps like Tik-Tok and UC browser are currently working fine, but are expected to halt soon.
Going by the official statement of concerns regarding security, will China not be able to use our already stored data in their servers? If the Chinese resort to malpractices, they can use the data anyway or may have used it already even before the ban.
The Impact of the BAN:
Tik-Tok the most popular app among the banned apps has a reach of around 300 million users in India. Over 120 million active users are mainly from tier-2 and tier-3 regions of India.
Globally Tik-Tok has over 800 million active users. Tik-Tok Owner ByteDance earned a profit of $3 billion on revenue of $17 billion last year in 2019. A huge chunk of this profit is attributable to Indian Users as India has one of the largest user-base alone. Revenue generation by Tik-Tok and other apps will eventually reduce by a good margin.
Other apps like UC browser, Club factory, Cam Scanner, etc, each of these apps have over 100 million users in India.
Most of these apps have Indian developers, for many of whom this is the only source of Income. Many offices and employees are especially dedicated to these apps, a few thousand jobs could be at stake and Thousands of Tik-Tok influencers who made a living through it will be hit the most.
Apps that remain unbanned?
Some apps originated in India but eventually became Chinese after receiving massive investments from Chinese firms in the last few years. Paytm is one such app which owes 38 % share to the Alibaba group and 20 % shares to SAIF partners, both these firms are headquartered in China. Overall Paytm is more Chinese than Indian.
Apps that are not banned despite lead Chinese investors are big basket,BYJU’s, DREAM11, DELHIVERY, Hike Messenger, MakeMyTrip, Paytm mall, policy bazaar.com, Quikr, Snapdeal, Rivigo, Swiggy, Udaan, Zomato, Oyo, Ola, and Flipkart. A lot of these companies owes billions of dollars to Chinese investors.
The most popular gaming app PUBG has an 11.5 % share owned by ‘Tencent’, which is a Chinese firm. Tencent is the second-largest shareholder of PUBG after Bluehole Studio. Over the years PUBG has claimed many lives of young teens due to its addicting nature. However, PUBG is also not in the list of banned apps.
Banning Chinese apps is a good measure after Boycott sentiments nationwide. This may aid in “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” as well. The home-growing startups will get a boost but raising funds for these startups through Indian investors would still be a barrier under current Economic depression. Going by the previous records, most Indian startups received funds from Chinese investors like Alibaba Group, Ant Financial, Tencent holdings, etc during initial stages.
Is Ban permanent?
This isn’t the first time Chinese apps have been banned in India. In 2017, Alibaba’s UC Browser had come under the scanner for allegedly leaking mobile data of Indian users. And that year, India’s defence ministry asked all armed personnel and officers to uninstall 42 Chinese apps it classified as “spyware”, according to media reports.
The official twitter handle of Tik-Tok India issued a statement after the ban. The statement said that the company will comply with the Interim order on a ban of 59 Chinese apps including Tik Tok. The statement said that “Tik Tok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government”.
If its an ‘Interim order” then the services may be resumed back after some time. Last Year on 3 April 2019, The Madurai bench of Madras high court had passed an order to prohibit further downloads of the Tik-Tok app calling it dangerous for children. Although the ban was lifted after a court hearing with Tik-Tok officials on 24th April 2019.
Anti-china sentiments grew fierce after the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley. This is one of the steps taken by the Indian Government against China after the Boycott calls. Currently, officials are engaged in peace talks with China.