India bans TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps after border clash

India bans TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps after border clash

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The Chinese-made TikTok app has been banned by the Indian government because diplomatic relations between the two countries are flaring up.

Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

India banned the popular Chinese video sharing app TikTok and 58 others on Monday after at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a border conflict between troops from both countries this month.

The apps, which range from games to music streaming to social media, “are affecting India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defense, state security and public order,” a statement by the Indian Ministry of Information Technology said on Monday.

In addition to TikTok, banned mobile apps include those belonging to some of China’s largest and most influential technology companies, including Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, Baidu’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, and Xiaomi’s video call app Mi Video Call. It is unclear how the ban will be enforced among India’s existing users who have already downloaded the apps to their phones, but it will block potential new users as Apple and Google will have to remove these apps iOS and Android stores.

The ban is because sentiment against China in India broke out after a fatal clash in June along a controversial India-China border high in the Himalayas, escalating tensions between the two neighboring countries. The fallout included widespread calls to boycott Chinese products, including phones and software. Chinese phone maker Oppo has canceled a live online launch of its website Ultra premium flagship phones given the diplomatic flare up between the two countries.


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The Indian Ministry of Technology also said it received several complaints about misuse of mobile apps to “steal user data in an unauthorized manner and secretly transmit it to servers outside India.” The government ministry described the situation as “very profound and immediate concern that requires immediate action”.

TikTok, which has accumulated an estimated 120 million users in India since its launch, says it is in the process of complying with the ban, and has been invited to meet with government officials to submit clarifications. The social media company also denied sharing user data with the Chinese government.

“TikTok continues to meet all data protection and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared information from our users in India with a foreign government, including the Chinese government.” Nikhil Gandhi, head of TikTok India, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We value user privacy and integrity.”

The research firm Canalys described the ban in a post on Twitter on Tuesday as “a blow to the Chinese app industry that is losing a strong installed base outside of its home country”.

India is home to more than 1.3 billion people and one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world, where technology companies can market their products or services to hundreds of millions of consumers, including a growing number of people who are going online for the first time a smartphone.

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