NEW DELHI: India on Monday banned 54 Chinese mobile applications including Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera-Selfie Camera, Rise of Kingdoms, Lost Crusade, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, FancyU pro, MoonChat, Barcode Scanner-QR Code Scan, and Lica Cam, saying that these pose threat to national security.
Besides security concerns, there were privacy concerns also, officials said. The ban on the applications was announced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology after the Ministry of Home Affairs recommended action. “These 54 apps allegedly obtain various critical permissions and collect sensitive user data. These real-time data are being misused and transmitted to servers located in hostile country,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said.
Among the banned applications is the popular game Garena Free Fire-Illuminate, which is not from China, but is Singapore-based. It was one of the most downloaded games in India last year, and had taken up the space created after PUBG Mobile was banned in September, 2020.
The IT ministry received a request for blocking the 54 apps from MHA under the emergency provision envisaged in Section 69(A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act. As per the report shared by MHA, these apps are either cloned versions or have similar functionality, privacy issues and security threats, as alleged in the case of 267 apps blocked by the government in 2020.
Sources said that the real-time data collected by these apps can enable the ‘hostile country’ to compile huge personal data to mine, collate, analyse and profile by elements who are a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India and for activities detrimental to national security. Besides, there are other concerns as some of these apps can carry out espionage and surveillance activities via camera/microphone, accessing fine location (GPS) and do malicious network activity similar to previously blocked apps.
In all, India has blocked 321 apps since border tensions with China started in May 2020. In June last year, India banned 59 Chinese mobile applications including the widely-used social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo citing threat to sovereignty.