Is Banning Chinese Apps Enough?

Indian Government banned 59 apps under the Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000 after an uninvited feud between country militants on the border took place. The government has blamed these apps’ wobbly security measures for the ban and has said this could be a potential threat to our country’s sovereignty and security. However, the Indian Government has given these apps a last chance to come forward and give clarification in the court. 

The controvert here is why have government officials waited for a triggering moment like this to take such an essential step when questions regarding these apps’ security have been floating for almost two years now. And why are they being given another chance to justify themselves knowing their influential reach that could easily get them back in the Indian market and continue with data laundering. 

TikTok is one of the 59 apps that have been banned. Not just India but Australia and America both have raised their concern against the app’s problematic, suspicious and apocryphal security. Only hours after getting banned TikTok released statements in which it claimed to have never shared Indian citizens’ information with any foreign entity or Chinese govt. and that it had democratized itself in the country. It is hard to believe these statements because unlike other apps TikTok does not ask for your permission before using your location to customise your feed. While the app exhaustively runs on smart algorithms it would be amiss to pronounce it as “democratized”. 

Shein is another highly controversial app that is extensively and comprehensively loved and used by Indians. Previous year the Chinese e-commerce brand was partially shut down due to its incompetency in paying custom duties . Mumbai customs seized around 500 plus parcels of Shein and sealed their warehouse in Mumbai after undervalued and wrongly declared goods of the company were found. Not just Shein but dozens of other Chinese retailer companies including AliExpress and Club Factory have allegedly been paying much lower custom duties and their goods have been seized a couple of times too. As per Indian laws any goods that have been sent as “gifts” for up to Rs.5000 do not have any taxes imposed on them. Pertaining to this a lot of local Indian traders have accused chinese companies of having exploited this provision to save themselves a colossal amount of taxes. 

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The repercussions of these bans is what everyone is hung up at. Especially TikTok which was used by almost 100 million Indians and was the only source of income for many around the country. Internet famous Manjul Khattar and Riyaz Aly rose to fame with the help of TikTok. According to a report India contributes to a total of 30% of TikTok’s worldwide downloads which means a staggering loss of $6 bn to the firm. On the other hand the ban has also affected India’s annual influencer earnings. India’s ban on Chinese app TikTok has led to a loss of about ₹120 crore as reported by Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB).

It is somehow very obvious and known to all that the interim ban may soon be lifted and the apps will get back on track. Hereof what exactly is India’s policy of preventing it’s citizens’ data? There are a plethora of other Chinese apps that are still active in India, and does the government trust them with its country’s data? Not just Chinese but what policy does the Indian government have for apps from all over the world functioning here? These are some questions that have been raised post the ban. China is one of those countries that use meticulous policies when it comes to foreign apps. It asks foreign companies to collaborate with local Chinese developers if they wish to run their app in China. This way they not only get to secure their data locally but also make sure that is not leaked or misused. India too can adopt these policies and benefit from them largely.

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