Why in News?
The Indian government on June 29 banned 59 apps of Chinese origin citing data security and national sovereignty concerns.
News in Detail
- The step was taken in the wake of the face-off with Chinese forces on the India-China border in Ladakh, and a violent clash on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
- These include popular ones such as TikTok, SHAREIt, UC Browser, CamScanner, Helo, Weibo, WeChat and Club Factory.
- However,the government did not name China openly in its action against the apps.
Why were the Chinese apps banned?
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in a press release asserted that it had 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”.
- The government also said that several citizens had reportedly raised concerns in representations to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) regarding security of data and loss of privacy in using these apps.
- In addition, the Ministry said it had also received “exhaustive recommendations” from the Home Ministry’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.
Legal provisions to ban apps
- The Ministry said it had decided to block the 59 apps to safeguard the “sovereignty and integrity of India”, invoking powers under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
- There are two options available to the government under Section 69A of the IT Act to issue ban orders — normal and emergency.
- It appears that the government may have adopted the emergency route.
- The emergency route allows content to be blocked on the directions of the Secretary, Department of IT, who must consider the impugned content and record his reasons for doing so.
- In the normal course, an order to block content requires: (a) a decision to be made by a government committee (b) relevant intermediaries to be given an opportunity to be heard by this committee.
- These processes are not required when emergency provisions are used.
- However, in the case of emergencies, the order of the Secretary, Department of IT, must be placed before the government committee within 48 hours.
- Based on the recommendations of this committee, the order can then be finalised or vacated.
What has China’s response been to the ban?
- China has said that it suspects India’s actions could be in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
- China has also accused India that the ban goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India.”
- The Chinese government’s comments indicate that it could file a formal complaint at the WTO.
- CERT-In is a functional organisation of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, with the objective of securing Indian cyber space.
- CERT-In provides Incident Prevention and Response services as well as Security Quality Management Services.