India tonight banned 59 mobile apps, mostly Chinese like TikTok, WeChat and SHAREit, saying these "are prejudicial to the country's sovereignty, integrity, defence, security and public order".
Mi Video Call-Xiaomi is also among the apps banned, the Ministry of Information Technology which invoked its power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act along with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
The action came two weeks after a violent faceoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh on June 15 when 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured.
"This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace," an official statement said.
The decision to ban the 59 apps was taken "In view of the emergent nature of threats… since in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order," said the statement issued by the Information Technology Ministry.
It said, "there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country.
"The Ministry of 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 unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India," according to the statement.
"The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence 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," it said.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre under the Home Ministry has also sent an "exhaustive recommendation" for blocking these "malicious apps".
The Information Technology Ministry said, "The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues.
"Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged 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," the Ministry statement said.
It added, "On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such apps pose threats to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices."
Among the other apps banned by India are UC Browser, Baidu Maps, Clash of Kings, DU battery saver, Helo, Mi Community, CM Browers, Virus Cleaner and Newsdog.