India has today banned 118 apps, including the popular game PUBG Mobile, according to Medianama. The apps were accused of being engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order” by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Thus far, the Indian government has banned 224 apps this year, mainly due to implied security concerns with regards to Chinese ownership. In June, India banned 59 apps including TikTok and WeChat, and banned another 47 in July.
“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 India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry explained that bipartisan concerns were flagged up about the large number of apps, “by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India. 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.” On the basis of “credible” information, evidencing the functionality embedded in apps that allowed for “data harvesting practices,” the apps were deemed by the Ministry to be “a severe threat to security of the State.”
Concerns about rogue data harvesting practices on iOS are regarded as being of the same severity as on Android. Apple and Google will now be forced to remove the apps from their respective app stores, effective immediately.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee specifically discussed the need for a ban on PUBG Mobile in July. PUBG Mobile is owned by Chinese tech company Tencent, which was likely the reason for its inclusion in the ban. PUBG was said to be among the most popular games in India prior to today’s ban. The country was also one of the largest markets for TikTok, prior to its ban in June. The extended app ban list also includes two apps that claimed to offer access to TikTok via a VPN.
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