India has banned more than 100 additional apps with linkage to China including popular mobile game PUBG citing cybersecurity concerns as geopolitical tension between the two neighboring nations continues to rise.
On Wednesday, India’s IT Ministry ordered to ban 118 apps that it said were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” The move will help “safeguard the interests of crores (tens of millions) of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace,” the ministry said.
The move comes months after New Delhi banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, which counted India as its biggest international market, UC Browser, and UC News.
Among the new apps that have been banned today include Baidu, WeChat Work, Tencent Weiyun, Rise of Kingdoms, APUS Launcher, Tencent Weiyun, VPN for TikTok, Mobile Taobao, Youko, Sina News, CamCard, as well as a miniature version of PUBG. (You can see the full list here.)
PUBG is by far the most popular app among the newly banned apps. It had more than 40 million monthly active users in India, according to one of the top mobile insight firms.
“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several 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 of India,” the ministry said in a statement. “There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.”
Tension between the world’s two most populous nations escalated when more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a military clash in the Himalayas in June. Ever since, “Boycott China” — and variations of it — has been trending on Twitter in India as a growing number of people posted videos demonstrating destruction of Chinese-made smartphones, TVs and other products.
In April, India also made a change to its foreign investment policy that requires Chinese investors — who have ploughed billions of dollars into Indian startups in recent years — to take approval from New Delhi. The move has significantly reduced Chinese investors’ presence in Indian startups’ deal flows in the months since.
Last month, Alibaba Group reportedly halted any new investments in Indian firms for at least six months.