Edited by- Tirtharaj Basu Ray
This article is written by Ayush Pandey, a law student at Babu Banarasi Das, University, Lucknow.
On June 29, 2020, the Government of India banned 59 China-based apps under Section 69A of Information & Technology. This move comes forward amid the border tension between India and China on Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The most popular apps, among the youth, are TikTok, WeChat, Club Factory, and Shareit. TikTok is the most downloaded app among all the banned apps with over 100 million users. TikTok has been invited to submit the clarification to the concerned authorities.
REASON BEHIND THE BANNING
The IT Ministry banned these apps as there was a threat that the mobile apps were stealing the user data and also transferring the unauthorized data to servers located outside India. The banned apps include the category of e-commerce, gaming, social media, file sharing, and instant messaging. The basic reason behind banning is that the apps are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.
The IT Ministry has received various complaints from different sources including several reports about the misuse of some of these mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and transmitting user’s data to outsider’s servers which are located outside India in an unauthorized manner. The compilation and stealing of these unauthorized data ultimately impinge upon the sovereignty and integrity of India. This matter requires a very deep and immediate concern about emergency measures.
Many representations were raised from the citizens concerned, regarding the security of data and risk to privacy with the operation of these China-based apps in India. The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also various representations from citizens regarding the security of data and breach of privacy which impacts and continuously impacting upon public order issues.
BENEFITS OF BANNING
On June 30, 2020, a day after banning these apps, the government announced a new project for local developers to create made in India apps for the Indian market and users. The app innovation challenge under Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self-dependant India) campaign is a challenge for developers to create apps in eight categories such as social networking, e-learning, entertainment, news, and games, etc which will results in increment in the employment among the IT sector to develop the India based apps.
EFFECT ON THE USERS
Installed apps may continue to exist on the mobile devices but the latest versions of the apps have been removed from the Google Play Store and iOS App store. The users will be unable to access the updated versions in the future. If the flow of data from these apps will be halted that could impact the functioning of the existing installed apps.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
An Indian based app, Chingari saw its download increases from 1 Lakh to more than 1 crore on Google Play Store soon after the ban of Chinese App, TikTok. Chingari offers similar functioning as TikTok offers to its users.
There are various alternatives to these China-based apps such as Zoho Doc-Scanner, an alternative of Cam Scanner which offers the user to import all files en masse from Cam Scanner.
HOW DOES THE BAN AFFECT CHINESE APP PROVIDERS?
The loss of advertising revenue impacts the developers of these Chinese apps. Byte Dance Ltd. (TikTok’s parent) has recorded a doubling of global revenue to $17 billion in 2019 with $3 billion of profit.
In India, the business has yielded $5.8 million as revenue till March 2019. But when TikTok and other Chinese apps were banned, the parent companies have to face huge losses.
RESPONSE OF CHINA ON THE BANNING OF THESE APPS
China responded to this ban as ‘India’s action could be the violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Indian measures selectively target certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions, and is assumed as violating the WTO rules. It is completely against the pattern of international trade and e-commerce and is not conducive to consumer’s interests and the market’s competition in India. The Chinese government’s comment indicated that it could file a formal complaint at the WTO.
INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND LEGAL OPTIONS
The Indian government under Section 69-A of the IT Act has the power to issue ban orders either in normal or emergency times. In the banning of 59 Chinese apps, the government has followed the emergency pattern which allows the content to be blocked on the directions of Secretary, Department of IT, who must consider the impugned content and recording for doing so.
However, in the time of emergencies, the order of the Secretary, Department of IT, must be placed before the government committee within 48 hours and according to the recommendations of that committee, the order or decision can be finalized.
To conclude, the author would like to say that the banning of these Chinese Apps is a great hit of the hammer of Indian political strength on the world’s biggest power. It can also be said that China will have to face the repercussions of continuously creating disturbances on LAC and underrating India’s strength. China is associated with the Indian market at a large scale through the technology sector and this measure taken by the Government of India is a great step in curbing the roots, which China is trying to spread in the Indian market. The revenue generated through trade with India is being used against India only and China was trying to take control over India and make it a week. But this huge step has not only make short term loss to China’s economy but also a long term impact that no external aggression could shatter India. As a result, Chinese forces have also step back on LAC. In the end, it can be said that this is the opportunity for Indians to emerge as a great technology sector and not letting other country markets to rule in.
Author Name – Ayush Pandey
Published on – 29/07/2020