A 2019 study had found that Chinese apps transfer data to around seven outside agencies; TikTok sends data to China Telecom (a state-owned Chinese telecommunication company); Vigo Video to Tencent; BeautyPlus to Meitu; and QQ and UC Browser to its parent owned by Alibaba.
Intelligence agencies have asked central government to block or advise people to stop use of 52 mobile applications linked to China over concerns that these weren’t safe and also for extracting large amount of data outside India, Hindustan Times reports
. The Chinese origin applications recommended by the security establishment to the government include video conferencing app Zoom, short-video app TikTok, and other utility and content apps such as UC browser, Xender, SHAREit and Clean-master, says the HT report.
The National Security Council Secretariat has backed the recommendation to block the use of these mobile apps as it has opined that these apps could be detrimental to India’s security. In April, Home Ministry had issued an advisory on use of Zoom app for video conferencing based on the recommendation of Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-in). There have consistent demands to ban Tik-Tok for lack of filtering and monitering of anti-National and Hinduphobic content.
Last year, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) had appealed
to the Prime Minister to ban Chinese applications including ‘TikTok’ and ‘Helo’ for national security reasons. In a letter to Prime Minister on July 13, the SJM said the Government of India should take necessary steps to ensure that the Indian startups are not hurt by the Chinese companies which are flush with cash and harm the Indian startup ecosystem, our data sovereignty and most importantly our national security.
List of app reported by HT which intelligence agencies have asked central government to block or advise people to stop using
Chinese technology companies have historically shared a close relationship with the Chinese government. Studies have noted that as recently as March 2019 they have shared data with ‘China Telecom’, a state-owned Chinese telecommunication company. A study found that on an average the Chinese apps transfer data to around seven outside agencies, with 69% of the data being transferred to the US. TikTok sends data to China Telecom; Vigo Video to Tencent; BeautyPlus to Meitu; and QQ and UC Browser to its parent owned by Alibaba. In 2019, ‘Helo’ was found to be paying for over 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms worth Rs. 7 crore.
In early June, #BoycottChineseProducts was trending and apps to uninstall Chinese apps went viral. A particular app 'Remove China Apps
', a Swadeshi tool developed by Jaipur-based One Touch AppLabs raced to 1 million downloads within two weeks of the trend as anti-China sentiments gained momentum. However, within a week, all such apps which removed Chinese apps or provided Swadeshi alternatives were removed by Google from its playstore on one pretext or the other.