India bans 118 Chinese apps after Ladakh border tension flares up

Photo Illustration of PUBG app with Banned text on an iPad device in Guwahati, India, on Sept. 2, 2020. India has banned more than 100 additional apps with linkage to China, including popular mobile game PUBG citing cybersecurity concerns as geopolitical tensions between India and China rise.

David Talukdar | NurPhoto | Getty Images

India has banned 118 apps with links to China, citing national security risks. It comes against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions between the two nations. 

Major gaming titles from companies including Tencent and NetEase were on the list, as well as apps from other Chinese technology giants like Baidu and Alibaba affiliate, Ant Group.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that in “in view of the emergent nature of threats” it has “decided to block 118 mobile apps … since in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

The Indian government said it had “received many complaints from various sources” including reports about “misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

The ministry said this was “hostile to national security.”

“On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that information posted, permissions sought, functionality embedded as well as data harvesting practices of above stated Apps raise serious concerns that these Apps collect and share data in surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the State,” the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said. 

Ant Group and Baidu declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Alibaba, Tencent and NetEase were not immediately available for comment. 

The latest app ban comes as tensions flare up between China and India over the disputed Himalayan mountain border in the region of Ladakh. In June, a border clash between the two nations left 20 Indian soldiers dead. 

The Baidu app, Tencent’s WeChat Reading app and Ant Group’s Alipay, China’s most popular mobile payment service, are on India’s list of banned apps.

It’s important to note that some of the apps on the list don’t really have a presence in India. In fact, Alipay isn’t available in India for local users. 

However, some of the games have large followings in India.

For example, “PUBG Mobile Nordic Map: Livik,” a game developed by Tencent, has had 93,000,000 downloads since its release in 2018, according to Sensor Tower. It is the highest grossing app on India’s list, raking in $39,600,000 since its release. 

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