Delhi, Feb 16: The central government has issued an order to ban over 54 Chinese apps, calling them a ‘threat to privacy and security of Indians,’ officials told The Economic Times. It has directed all app stores to block these applications.
One of these apps, called Garena Free Fire, was the highest grossing mobile game in India in the third quarter of 2021, according to industry tracker App Annie. After the ban, Singapore-based Sea Ltd, the publisher of the game, lost around $16 billion in market value.
Many of these apps belong to large Chinese tech firms like Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase, and are “rebranded or re-christened avatars” of apps that have been banned in India since 2020, according to the report. They were allegedly transferring sensitive data to Chinese servers.
The biggest shareholder in Free Fire’s publisher is Tencent Holdings, the Chinese social media giant and the company behind PUBG mobile.
“Sea is a Singaporean company and we aim to partner in India’s digital economy mission,” the company said in a statement in response to queries from Bloomberg News.
“We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of our users in India and globally, we comply with Indian laws and regulations, and we do not transfer to or store any data of our Indian users in China.”Sea Ltd to Bloomberg
The 54 banned Chinese apps include Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera, Equalizer & Bass Booster, CamCard for SalesForce Ent, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, AppLock, Dual Space Lite, ANI reported.
Since June 2020, the government has banned a total of around 224 Chinese apps, including the hugely popular TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer, and Mi Community. (With inputs from The Economic Times, Bloomberg and ANI)