Behind the optics: What India's ban on Chinese apps is and isn't

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

It happened during prime time. The Indian government’s penchant for the dramatic was reinforced when it announced that 59 apps had been banned just when debates on news channels kicked off. The government said that these apps harmed the sovereignty and security of the country. Co-incidentally all of these apps were of Chinese origin. The list of apps included the likes of TikTok, Likee, Bigo Live, UCBrowser, and ShareIT among others. The point of friction has been TikTok and its growing popularity in India.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. This was a political move done in response to the skirmish between the two neighbours which resulted in casualties on both sides. But while the incidents in June were a watershed moment, there was growing momentum against China for a while. The Indian army, for instance, had asked its officers and soldiers to delete Chinese apps from their phones. OnePlus was accused of having “backdoors” on their phones which allow access to sensitive information. And finally, media reports suggested that TikTok had security flaws that allowed hackers to take hold of accounts.

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