The matter of privacy and security concerns due to the presence and significant market share of Chinese apps in India is not new. However, the recent ban on all 29 Chinese apps by the Government of India is a much necessary, and equally bold step.
Is this ban permanent?
Well, the permanence of this ban is not certain. For instance, when the Madras High court in India banned TikTok last year, it was alleged that the platform allowed pornographic and other discretionary content. However, the app was sold on the Play Store after several checks were placed in this regard.
If you remember, a few months back there were a lot of controversies regarding the spread of gender threatening content and few videos that were circulating on the internet that were found to promote and glorify rape and acid attacks. After these continuous controversies, the platform and content creators on it faced serious criticism on these grounds. Keeping these facts in mind, along with the security and privacy issues on a national level, there is no doubt that the ban is going to last long.
What are the possible impacts of the ban on China?
Being the biggest external market for apps such as TikTok and UC browser, China holds great power. However, India represents a relatively small source of revenue for Chinese apps but continues to be among the fastest-growing markets for these apps. As the user base of these apps increase and Indians grow rich, the average revenue per user is likely to increase.
There are further possible actions on other Chinese software and hardware, including 5Gproducts, as Indians continue to grow their awareness of the potential security threats of these Chinese technologies.
What is likely to be the impact on the Indian economy?
In a time when betting at sites like Lottoland is legal in India, a lot of websites and Chinese apps are facing a complete ban. The decision is likely to bring significant changes as it is a big step towards improving cybersecurity for the nation as a whole. However, some Indian brands such as ROPOSO are seen as a local alternative to TikTok and are likely to attract users in masses.
While Chrome is still among the most popular browser apps in India, other companies such as Google are also likely to benefit from the blocking of the UC browser in India. UC browser, TikTok, share it, and the popular shopping app Club factory are among the other significant apps that have been blocked due to the increasing tensions between India and China after the clashes at the border. The primary reason behind the ban is that these apps were found to be there for a long time.
The decision can also serve as a blow to China’s digital silk route ambitions, which is a highly dependent factor for the valuation of companies. Consequently, it could also lead to more and more companies following the Indian suit and acting against these companies.
Following is the list of all banned 29 apps.
- UC Browser
- Baidu map
- Clash of Kings
- DU battery saver
- YouCam makeup
- Mi Community
- CM Browsers
- Virus Cleaner
- APUS Browser
- Club Factory
- News dog
- Beauty Plus
- UC News
- QQ Mail
- QQ Music
- QQ Newsfeed
- Bigo Live
- Mail Master
The websites have been blocked under the provision of section 69A of the IT Act. It empowers the government of India to block public access to any URL in the “interest of sovereignty and integrity of India”, the ministry said. The government has also cited complaints regarding the data on Indian users and the ongoing risk of privacy breach abroad without any prior consent or authorization.
What happens to those who have already downloaded the apps?
People who already have these apps installed on their phone will not receive any further developer support. Also, they will not get access to app downloads for further updates since the server won’t be available. Though it will be possible for people to use these apps on their phone, they will not be able to get any security updates for the same.
As a result of this ban, the users will not be able to post the content because the service will not be accessible on Indian telecom networks. Video content creators will not be able to share their content due to the absence of servers. However, the apps that work in offline mode will continue to function. The same goes for devices that come with these apps pre-installed on their systems.
Are there any substitutes available for these apps?
There are several substitutes that the users can switch to after the ban. Some of the closest and common substitutes for TikTok are Mitron, which is an Indian video making app. On the other hand, Chingari is another close substitute for TikTok, which recently crossed the 2.5 million download mark. The app was released in 2018, but the developers are looking to make the most out of existing situations.
In the ongoing scenario, even YouTube is working on a short video format ‘YouTube shorts’ but there is no official announcement regarding the same. Users can also use File by Google, Share All, and Send Anywhere for other alternatives instead of Chinese apps like ShareIt and Xender.
The decision has multifaceted effects on both economies, be it from the political aspect or legal aspect. The decision is likely to create heavy economic pressure because these apps were heavily reliant on Indian markets. If we see it from the legal perspective, the decision is equally rational since the national security issues cannot be taken on a lighter note. Therefore, this decision was much needed to ensure the absence of any privacy or security concerns.