The Indian government banned 43 mobile apps for engaging in activities which are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India,” an official release said on Tuesday.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that they issued an order under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, blocking access to 43 mobile apps.
“This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the release said, adding that the ministry action followed the reports from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Among the mobile apps banned on Tuesday, most of them are Chinese.
This is the first time India has banned the mobile apps citing such concerns.
In September, 118 apps — mostly Chinese — were banned by the Indian government amid the ongoing tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a de facto border in the Ladakh region of disputed Jammu and Kashmir, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed in June. Since then a series of meetings has been conducted between the two countries, but without success.
In June, 59 mobile apps, mostly Chinese again, were also banned.
Tuesday’s Indian government statement said: “The government is committed to protect the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that.”
Digital activists in India said the ban on 43 mobile apps “doesn’t come as a surprise” and “India is keen to assert its sovereignty over the Indian internet.”
“Banning these apps, it is saying that Chinese apps are not welcome. We don’t know whether this is a temporary measure, dependent on the situation at the Line of Actual control, where Indian and Chinese forces are facing off, or whether it is a permanent measure,” Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist and founder of online news portal MediaNama, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that under the “law that India has used to ban these apps, the government could have kept the ban and the names of the apps secret.” “It is very clear that they wanted it to be known that these apps are being banned. In a way, India is sending a message to China that they can’t be the aggressors militarily, and expect access to the Indian market for their investment and business at the same time,” he added.
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