Digital strike 2.0 against China: Blocking over 200 applications with Chinese ties

On an “urgent” and “emergency” basis, the government of India has banned approximately 230 Chinese apps, including 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps, amid a significant crackdown on loan-lending apps.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the action.

Six months ago, according to reports, the authorities began analysing as many as 288 Chinese applications. It was discovered that these applications could have accessed the private information of Indian citizens.

The action was initiated after it was confirmed that these applications violate Section 69 of the IT Act because they include content that is detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India.

The move was prompted by many reports of extortion and harassment from individuals who obtained modest loans using mobile apps operated by the aforementioned organisations and individuals.

According to reports, these applications were conceived by Chinese nationals who employed Indians as heads of operations.

According to reports, desperate individuals are enticed into taking out loans and then the interest rates are increased by up to 3,000 percent annually.

When the debtors were unable to repay the interest, let alone the full loan, representatives for these apps began to harass the borrowers.

They sent them filthy messages, threatening to publish their modified photographs and shame them by sending messages to their contacts.

After a wave of suicides, mainly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, by those who opted for such loans or lost money to betting applications, the issue gained widespread attention.

States including Telangana, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as central intelligence agencies, subsequently requested that the Union Home Ministry take action against these applications.

The government has discovered that 94 apps are available on e-stores, while others are accessible via third-party websites.

It has been learned that many apps are no longer available for download on cellphones, however sources indicate that betting apps and games are obtained via independent links and websites.

The government has issued an advisory stating that since betting and gambling are illegal in the majority of the country, advertisements of betting platforms and their surrogates are also prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, and the Information Technology Rules, 2021.

In the past few years, the government has ordered the banning of more than 250 Chinese applications on the grounds that they are “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, India’s defence, state security, and public order.”

Apps such as TikTok, Xender, PUBG Mobile Shein, Camscanner, and Garena Free Fire, among others, have been banned in India for allegedly collecting sensitive user data and requesting crucial permissions.

It has been revealed that servers in the hostile countries improperly receive and utilise the collected data. Section 69A of the Information Technology Act enforced the fee.

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