Stepping up the backlash over an increasingly bitter border showdown between its giant neighbour, China, the Indian government on Wednesday banned 118 more Chinese apps in the country — including the mobile version of the popular video game PUBG and other services provided by China internet giant Tencent.
The PUBG mobile phone app, which has millions of young users in India, was developed by a South Korean company, but the mobile version that has taken off around the world was developed by Tencent.
The Information Technology Ministry said the apps promoted activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
The ban, according to the ministry, follows 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 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,” the ministry statement said.
India and China have been embroiled in a series of deadly clashes and showdowns on their Himalayan border in recent weeks.
In June, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat in the Ladakh region of the border. An Indian special forces member was killed in one of two incidents at the weekend.
China has also suffered casualties but has not given figures.
India had already banned 59 Chinese apps — including the video-sharing platform TikTok — after the June battle.
Other apps closed down include games, online payment services, dating sites and even software to edit selfies.
The IT ministry has also accused the apps of stealing user data.
These “apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to the security of the State,” India’s technology ministry said in a statement.
Consequently, 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, it added.
The latest ban comes a day after a senior Indian official said troops were deployed on four strategic hilltops after what New Delhi called an attempted Chinese incursion along a disputed Himalayan border.
Read more: India widens China app ban