Scrapping Chinese apps: A bold and decisive move?
Updated: Jul 2
Following the India-China tensions on 15th June, the Ministry of Information Technology has decided to ban 59 Apps as it was a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India. The MoIT has issued an order under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009. The decision comes in response to complaints filed by various sources to the government.
All internet providers will block these apps. While the ban impacts all those apps which require active internet connections, users will be able to use apps like CamScanner which do not require internet connectivity. However, the App Store and Play store would be restricting any further downloads.
Misusing and Stealing Data
According to the Government, The listed apps pose a threat to national security. It was reported that these apps are suspiciously transmitting data of the users to servers situated outside India. The data are being transferred without authorization.
According to a Singapore firm, after the Galwan valley face-off, Chinese hackers have been targeting India at a much larger scale. Chinese have seemed to be directly involved in cyber attacks. Previously, the Chinese operated through North Korean and Pakistani hackers. The hackers are now targeting to acquire sensitive information of customers and Government agencies.
The Internet Freedom Foundation has legally challenged the decision claiming that it is not a legal order under Section 69A. It has also requested to approach the issue case by case. However, many Indian companies competing against Tik Tok and other Chinese tech giants believe that it is an invaluable opportunity for Indian Companies to grow and protect the data security of the users.
The decision has created economic pressure on Chinese Companies as their market is heavily dependent on Indians. It will likely boost Indian startups and help them in the domination of the market.
Blow to China’s Digital Silk Road
The Digital Silk Road was initiated by China back in 2015 as a subset of the well known Belt and Road Initiative(BRI). The primary objective of the initiative is to develop a China-centric digital infrastructure that will allow China to access a large amount of data, expansion of Chinese tech giants. However, it is anticipated that the authoritarian government in Beijing would focus to curb human fundamental rights in the particular regions. This initiative would be used to curtail democracy and spread the rule of authoritarian governments.
It is aiming to strengthen its military and economic importance by improving satellite navigation systems, using Data, 5G Cellular networks, and the use of fiber optic cables. It has also created a digital free trade zone which boosts e-commerce as it reduces the cross border trade barriers.
With the recent government ban on Chinese tech giants, it is likely to affect the Digital Silk Road by and erode the valuation of companies. It might encourage other countries to pressurize China and restrict these apps too.
The key questions
Although the decision provides opportunities for Indian firms to grow, Companies like Byte Dance have employed a large number of Indians. Many Indians see these platforms as their only source of Income. The question is - Should the Government help Indian employees in finding other alternatives or Should it ignore the unemployment crisis in the name of National security?
Moreover, if these apps pose challenges to data security, Should the government make relevant changes and update their Cybersecurity laws such that it is not limited to Chinese firms but also to any other firm that has the potential to misuse and share the data of Indians?
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