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Business News/ News / World/  Digital strike 2.0 on China: Centre blocks over 200 apps with Chinese links

Amid a major crackdown on loan-lending apps, the government of India has ordered to ban around 230 Chinese apps, including 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps, on "urgent" and "emergency" basis. 

The action was initiated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Reports say the government began an analysis of as many as 288 Chinese apps around six months ago. It was revealed that these apps could have accessed the personal data of Indian citizens.

The move was taken after confirming that these apps attract Section 69 of the IT Act as they contain material, which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India.

The action behind the move is based on many complaints of extortion and harassment of individuals who had availed small amounts of loans through the mobile apps being run by those entities and persons.

Reports say these apps are the brainchild of Chinese nationals who hired Indians and made them directors in operation.

Desperate people are lured into taking on a loan and then jacked up the interest by up to 3,000 per cent annually, according to reports.

When the debtors were unable to repay the interest, let alone the entire loan, individuals representing these apps started harassing those in debt.

They sent them lewd messages, threatening to release their morphed photos and shaming them with messages to their contacts.

The matter came into the spotlight after a spate of suicides, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, by those who opted for such loans or lost money to betting apps.

States such as Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh as well as central intelligence agencies had then asked the Union Home Ministry to take action against these apps.

The government has found that 94 apps are available on e-stores and that others are working through third-party links.

It is learnt that many apps are now not available to download on smartphones but sources say the betting apps and games are being downloaded through independent links or websites.

The government has issued an advisory, stating that since betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms, as well as their surrogates, are also illegal under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021.

In the last few years, the government had ordered to ban many 250 Chinese apps citing them to be “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state and public order".

Apps including TikTok, Xender, PUBG Mobile Shein, Camscanner, Garena Free Fire, among others were banned in India as they purportedly gathered sensitive user data and requested important permissions.

It was reported that servers in the hostile nation are receiving and using the acquired data improperly. It was imposed under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

With agency inputs

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Updated: 05 Feb 2023, 12:31 PM IST
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