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Banning Chinese Applications: A National Move by the Indian Government

Banning Chinese Applications

Owing to the face-off between the Indian and Chinese army over the disputed LAC, the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a significant step by banning Chinese applications. By carrying out this step, the Government of India has shown its integrity due to the face-off. Some of the well known industrial names including Tik Tok and Wechat are also included in the list of banned applications. The political face-off between India and China in the LAC has led to this event. On June 30, the government of India has banned more than 59 Chinese applications which work on android and iOS smartphones. Banning Chinese Applications is not only due to tensions between the Indian and Chinese Governments, but there are also security reasons for the same.

What is the LAC and its relation to Banning Chinese Applications?

LAC is an abbreviation for ‘Line of Actual Control’. This stands as a loose demarcation line between the Indian Territory and the Chinese Territory. In the past, there have been disturbances, such as border disputes between India and China over this land. This is considered as the Sino Land Border Dispute. One of the first disturbances that arose between India and China was in 1959 between Zhou and Jawaharlal Nehru. This area comes under the 1962 India and China Dispute.

The Line of Actual Control covers more than 3000 Kilometres of space between the territories of India and China. The LAC is divided between three sectors: Eastern Sector, Middle Sector, and the Western Sector. This area has been disputed ever since 1959 and now in 2020. Due to this, the government has taken a significant step in banning Chinese applications in India.

Has the LAC disturbance led to Banning Chinese Applications?

The LAC disturbance has caused the Indian Government to take strict action against Chinese Authorities. One step which was taken by India was initially banning Chinese applications. More than 59 Chinese Applications were banned in June 2020. Some Industrial names such as Tik Tok, UC browser, and WeChat have been included in the list of banned Chinese applications.

Some claim that this is carried out due to political reasons. However, many debates that this ban occurred for prevailing cybersecurity reasons. Indeed, this is a proud moment for the nation to protect the national integrity and sovereignty of the country. The principles of Integrity, Sovereignty, and protection of national interests of the country are present under the Indian Constitution. These principles form part of the fundamental rights. Even the fundamental duties have enshrined such interests of the nation.

To carry out the ban on specific Chinese applications and its use in India, the Department of Telecommunication and Information Technology invoked section 69A of the Information technology( Procedure and Safeguard for Blocking of Access of Information by the Public) Rules, 2009.  By using this section, the government has put a complete ban on the use of the above 59 applications. Banning Chinese applications in India was carried out with immediate effect to protect Indian consumers against Chinese applications.

What are the main reasons for banning Chinese Applications in India?

Some of the reasons for banning Chinese applications in India are the following:

  • Territorial Perspective- When viewing the above move by the Government of India, using the principles of territorial jurisdiction, one can come to the conclusion that the above action by the government carried out purely based on territory. When considering the principles of International law, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary authority for settling disputes related to borders between different countries.

If viewed from this point, the Government of India has taken a move to ban Chinese applications. However, some Indian authorities feel that the above action on banning Chinese applications is less detrimental compared to going directly against Chinese authorities. However, this will directly affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of China and cause adverse effects on the Chinese economy. Hence the territorial perspective can be considered for banning Chinese applications.

  • Political Perspective- When viewing the above move by the Government of India, one can consider that this move is a mere retaliation by the Indian Government. In the past, there have been different forms of stand-offs between Indian and Chinese Authorities. Tension is brewing ever since 1962 after the India-China war took place. As a retaliatory effort, the Government of India has taken this initiative of banning Chinese applications.

To increase its international outlook and political standing, the Indian government has taken this move to show its place in the globe. Different economies around the world are reacting in a similar way against China. Some countries have changed their production hubs around the world and considered India as an alternative to carrying out production activities. Looking at this move, from a political perspective, is a good stance taken by the Indian Government.

  • Democratic Perspective- India is a country that has one of the largest constitutions in the world. Owing to this, to protect the sovereignty and democracy of India, such a significant step is taken by the government of India. Protection the integrity and sovereignty are one of the main aims of the Indian Government. This would not only include the integrity and sovereignty of the nation but also include the integrity and sovereignty of the citizens of India.
  • Cybersecurity Perspective- Every country will have respective protocols to ensure that information and data of individuals is secure. Countries have established protocols to mitigate any form of cybersecurity problems that occur in the world. Similarly, the Government of India has considered this issue a cybersecurity problem which affects more than 250 million users of Chinese applications. Cybercrime and other forms of associated activities have increased; hence the government has to be more vigilant in handling such issues.  Given the cybersecurity concerns which have been addressed by users, the government has taken corrective steps by banning the applications.
  • Data Protection Perspective- In India, data protection principles have been adopted recently. These principles are similar to the principles which are derived from the General Data Protection Regulation, 2018 (GDPR). These GDPR principles are enshrined to protect the interest of the consumers. One of the interests includes the protection of sensitive data of consumers. Apart from this, taking specific consent of the consumer or the information provider is required for compliance under this regulation.

Sensitive data is more specific to the user’s address, age, gender. Whereas, non-sensitive data would relate to data and information which is not specific to the individual or the consumer. The decision for banning Chinese applications in India would be based on the principles which are enshrined for protecting the personal information of consumers. The government of India has brought the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 (PDPB), which has similar features as the GDPR.

Under the GDPR, the data controller has to take specific consent from data subjects. For interpretation data subjects are the individuals who provide data, and the data controller is the entity using such information which is provided. When a company uses such information, then specific consent is required for the use of such information from the data subject.

Comparing the above perspectives, it can be stated that the government has not just used one single reason for carrying out such a drastic step. Still, different reasons are present behind the decision taken by the Indian Government.

Banning Chinese Applications- Is there a data breach?

Under the PDPB, consent must be taken from data subjects before using such information. If no consent is taken from the data subject, and such information is utilized for specific purposes, then it goes against the principles of data protection law. As per the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology[1] (MeitY), received several complaints from different users of these Chinese applications.

Users who download these Chinese applications on IOS and Android feel that information which is provided is stolen and transmitted outside India. This goes against the data protection principles which are established under the GDPR and the PDPB. The information which is stolen is transmitted to another location outside India.

The ministry feels that mining and compilation of data which is used for different purposes are causing such issues to the integrity, prejudice, and sovereignty of the country. Hence, the government retaliated by using emergency measures notifying the ministry to ban the above applications.

How can the Government Inform the Consumer (user) of Banning Chinese Applications?

When the Government invokes section 69A of the Information technology (Procedure and Safeguard for Blocking of Access of Information by the Public) Rules, 2009, information which is based on certain applications would be blocked. This is usually the case, and such information would not be accessible by the public.

Once this process is carried out the application will be blocked in the respective store (Android or IOS) and the user would not be able to access any information or download the application for further use on the website.

The Government can use the following ways to inform the consumer about blocking such applications:

  • Blocking the Application- After invoking section 69 A of the information technology (Procedure and Safeguard for Blocking of Access of Information by the Public) Rules, 2009, the consumer must be informed of such a situation which the government has carried out.
  • Advice- Another way of providing the information is to advise people to not download Chinese applications.

Banning Chinese Applications- Gaming Applications

PUBG is one of the prominent games which have been played in the world ever since 2016. The government of India banned this application on 02 September 2020 along with other important applications such as small based applications made by Tencent, Alipay (Payment Based Application made by Alibaba), Camcard, Baidu, PubG, and PubG lite.

In this move, the government has stated that in more than three months, more than 224 applications have been banned. In September 2020, the government has banned more than 118 applications. This would cause a major blow to the Chinese economy.

The following bans were carried out:

  • The first 59 applications were banned by the Government of India citing different forms of security and privacy concerns. The information taken from these applications is transferred and used outside India. Indian intelligence agencies feel that such information transferred would be harvested and used by Chinese Intelligence agencies to spy on India. This move took place in June 2020.
  • After the Government of India banned 59 applications, 49 similar clone applications were banned. These clone based applications provided similar features when compared to the 59 applications which were initially banned.
  • In September 2020, the government made a big move by banning Chinese applications. More than 118 such applications were banned in India. These applications included office-based applications, dating applications, video editing applications, and gaming applications. Out of all the applications which were banned, one of the largest was PubG. This would cause a major downfall for the Chinese gaming company as India was the largest market for the game.

Such moves have been considered by the Indian government to protect the integrity and sovereignty of India. The move for banning Chinese applications in India has been welcomed by different agencies such as the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). Apart from them, domestic companies in India would also benefit from such a move as they can spend several resources and R & D to concentrate on producing applications for the Indian economy.

Effects of Banning Chinese Applications in India

Till date, the government of India has banned more than 224 applications in India. These applications were banned in a phased manner by the Indian government. Many associations, as well as groups, have welcomed this ban on Chinese applications. However, companies in China have not welcomed this move. Future partnerships with Indian companies would be debatable based on this move.

The following effects have arisen due to this:

Livelihood for Users- Many vloggers and other artists use applications such as Tik Tok to earn livelihood in India. Due to the ban, their daily income and the lively hood will be affected.

Employment- Chinese companies that create applications have technology centres in India. Indian’s who are employed by these Chinese technology companies would be in doubt regarding their future employment with the company.

Partnerships- Future bilateral and trade partnerships with India would be doubtful due to this ban. Banning Chinese applications would also affect relations which large Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Hence banning Chinese applications have detrimental effects on the future of the India-China Partnership.

Alternatives to Chinese Applications

Other Applications- As an alternative to Chinese applications, Indian users can consider downloading or using applications which are made in India. The ‘Make in India’ move has been promoted in the country. Individuals can download Indian made products which would directly contribute to the progress of the Indian Economy.

Increased Investment- Increased access to technology has been made at a domestic level. More applications which have linkages to India are being made. By the next 1000 days, the Prime Minister has suggested a plan for connecting villages with high optic fiber cables. Apart from this, the Government of India has signed partnerships with Korean companies such as Samsung to invest more in the development of products.

Conclusion- Banning Chinese Applications

The LAC disturbance has caused a lot of problems and tensions for the Indian Government. As a retaliatory measure, the government of India has banned 59 Chinese applications, including major players such as Tik Tok and WeChat.   There are different perspectives of carrying out this ban; however, it is clear that all the perspectives are taken into consideration for the government to carry out such a major ban. This ban occurred in a phased level, and till date, more than 224 Chinese applications are banned. The government of India aims at Indians using more amounts of applications that are made in India.

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