CHINESE APPS BANNED AGAIN?!
-By Adv. Govind Bali
“National Sovereignty is an obligation as well as an entitlement. A government that will not perform the role of a government forfeits the rights of a government.”
The year of 2020 was the year when the Indian Government did its first Digital strike due to as several accusations regarding the censorship, misuse of data, and external influence of China resulted in Dulling the shine of these Chinese Applications.
And as result of aforestated accusations, the Indian government through its Ministry of Electronic and information technology had banned 59 Chinese Applications including the universally acclaimed App “TikTok” and “Shein” on 29th June 2020. The government banned these applications invoking its Powers under the Information Technology Act,2000read with the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 In the last few years, a total 321 Chinese applications were banned including the largest gaming platform “Pub-G” and “Baidu”, largest Chinese search engine.
In a press release by The Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad implied that this “Digital Strike” was done to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India and also to protect the privacy of data of Indian Individuals. Although the government did not take China’s Name openly in the press but the implication was there.
Again in 2023 the,Amid the rising cases of loan and finance-related scams and online frauds, the Indian government as part of its ‘Digital Strike 2.0’ banned over 200 applications, mostly with Chinese links. The process to block access to these apps began on Sunday and it included 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps. The big move is triggered by online fraud and crime concerns as well as security issues involved with the operation of Chinese apps and digital platforms.
WHY ARE THESE APPS BANNED?
“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
– Tony Blair
It is true that India did say Yes to Chinese Apps, without even analysing the effects of such apps and how it would affectthe national security of the Country and the amount of fraud that would be conducted in our country. The App Ban is considered a punch in the face on China.
After receiving communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced on Sunday 4th February 2023, that it had begun the process of blocking the apps, most of which contained links to China, on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis.Because they contain “material which is prejudicial to India’s sovereignty and integrity,” the action has been initiated in accordance with Section 69 of the IT Act.Several complaints of extortion and harassment by online lending and finance apps were raised from various states of India such as Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana,most of which were developed in China, prompted the move. The apps as well as the advertisements shown in these apps were considered illegal in India, as they promoted gambling and betting which is illegal in many parts of India and operation of these apps within India is illegal under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021.
Reports say these apps are the brainchild of Chinese nationals who hired Indians and made them directors in operation.Desperate people were lured into taking on a loan and thenthe interest was jacked up by up to 3,000 per cent annually, according to reports.When the debtors were unable to repay the interest, let alone the entire loan, individuals representing these apps started harassing those in debt.They sent them lewd messages, threatening to release their morphed photos and shaming them with messages to their contacts.The matter came into the spotlight after a spate of suicides, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, by those who opted for such loans or lost money to betting apps.
And in my opinion,this ban resulted in many positive effects in India since the first Digital Strike.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF THE BAN
- Safeguarding Sovereignty and Integrity of our Country
One of the Main reasons for the ban of these apps were that a few specific applications were infringing the personal data and privacy of Indian Citizens. So, in order to Safeguard the interests and rights of the Indian Citizens as well as the security of the country, the government undertook this step to remove the malpractices of the Chinese apps.
Lt. Gen Harbhajan Singh PVSM, who was former Signal Officer-in-Chief of the Indian Army while referring to the ban said that “this is a symbolism which is very important as these apps are dangerous as the Chinese can put any bugs in the software.”
The ban also helped boost morale of the Indians according to a Survey conducted. According to the survey, the ban helped to improve the national Security and take India towards a right and correct direction.
- India being China’s biggest market for Apps helped China pump out the Indian Rupees from the country.
3.To establish India as an IT Superpower
India has been one of the largest markets for apps and products including the famous TikTok which had around 20 million Indian Users. Both India and China are considered emerging powers in the IT sector but in matters of competitiveness, it is much more complex game. Chinese and American apps have always held dominant positions in the Indian Market. Ban of Chinese Apps will not only help India become an IT superpower in the Indian Market but also globally.
4.Contribute Towards the GDP of the Country
Despite being a developing country, India continues to be an attractive market for investors. Following the recent ban on Chinese apps, the Indian government wants to encourage investment in the local tech industry. Furthermore, this ban is expected to contribute to GDP by increasing domestic production and innovation in the digital space.
- Fill the gap with the homegrown apps and bring investments
Banning Chinese apps in India is not just a way to protect intellectual property. It also fills the void for local businesses and developers. Local businesses can provide local alternatives to previously banned apps. They can also develop new apps for the specific needs and interests of Indians. This has resulted in a growing investment boom, as companies have raced to create Indian alternatives.
However, the ban also has resulted in many negative issues apart from the positive ones such as India’s economic Dependency on China, Data Privacy issues not being limited to Chinese apps only and loss of employment.
The ban on these Chinese Apps in India has caused a lot of controversy in the past. There have been many arguments for and against the ban and many debates and discussions on its duration, few thought it would be a temporary ban while the others thought that it would be a permanent banbut ultimately the decision lied with the Indian government. The benefits of banning Chinese apps werethat it will safeguard personal and sensitive information, increase the competition between companies in the Indian market and make it easier for Indians to develop their own apps. However, this was also a disadvantage because people in India who were employed by these banned Chinese apps lost their jobs.
Talking about Indians developing their own apps, one such app is DreamLive which is a content-based platform. It focuses on generating employment opportunities for youths at large. The old regime of Chinese Apps taking money from India as they were making people pay on those apps and they were also believed to evade taxes whereas apps like DreamLive based in India pay proper taxes on each transaction.
I believe that the Ban was necessary as the ban not only safeguarded the sovereignty and integrity of the Country but also helped the Indian Apps grow in the market. Apps like DreamLive has proved to bemore secured and provide better opportunities for various things such as employment.