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Ban On Chinese Apps: Need And Impact

When diplomacy ends, war begins- Adolf Hitler.

India and China were maintaining good relationships with each other in several ways economically, politically, culturally etc. Both are members of several international cooperation bodies like the United Nation system organizations, BRICS etc. Chinese troops attacked Galwan Valley at Ladakh and in this face off 20 Indian army personnel's were killed. Also, several news came regarding compromise with privacy of data of the Indian users who were using Chinese applications.

So in light of these burning issues and the losses that Indian citizens suffered, government of India after thinking pros and cons and all the aspects legally, financially and economically banned 59 Chinese apps to safeguard the, sovereignty and integrity of India invoking powers under 69A of the Information Technology act read with relevant provisions of the Information Technology Procedure and Safeguards for blocking of access of information by Public Rules, 2009).

Why these apps are banned, what was the need and what are its effects, all are discussed below:

  1. Reasons behind banning of the chinese apps in India
    China violated the peace treaty between the countries. Galwan Valley clash and killing of 20 Indian army personnel on the border area and then the news of threat to the privacy of data of Indian users added fuel to the situation and worsened the ties between the two countries.

    The PIB notification characterises these apps as ‘malicious', citing several complaints against these Apps for reportedly enabling unauthorised transmission of user data to servers situated outside India.

    The reasons stated in the notification are that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to user privacy and the sovereignty of India. Addressing the Jan Samvad series of virtual rally, Union Minister for Communication and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad called banning of chinese apps as Digital Strike.

    The government said these apps are banned under section 69A of the IT Amendment Act,2008 because they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. As this amendment in act gives the Central government the power to block public access to any information online- Whether on websites or mobile apps.

    India banned dozens of Chinese apps in the wake of deadly clashes at the border stand-off. The list of banned apps include Tik Tok, Shareit, Cam scanner, Vigo, Helo etc.
     
  2. Affect on the Chinese App providers and China's Response on that
    The Chinese government is accusing Indian Governments' step of banning Chinese apps in India as a discriminatory measure and termed the act in violation of WTO Rules. Ji Rong, the spokesperson of the chinese embassy in India, has already called this move, Discriminatory and says it abuses National security exceptions of the WTO Rules. Surprisingly, they have also banned foreign sites such as facebook, youtube, twitter and whatsapp.They justify it by framing the ideas of internet governance as a sovereignty issue. Arguably, India could also argue that its move is a retaliatory move against Chinese filtering.

    Several app companies who were making humongous profits from the Indian Users have suffered a high loss. ByteDanceLimited is a Chinese multinational internet technology company headquartered in Beijing. It is a developer of several apps including news recommendation engine Toutia, the video sharing social networking service, Vigo, Helo, Tik Tok which was known as Musically earlier. This is the worst hit company after the ban.

    The potential loss of advertising revenue impacts app-makers. Tik Tok's parent Byte Dance Ltd.

    recorded a doubling global revenue to $17 billion in 2019, over the previous year, with $3 billion in profit. It's India business may have yielded only $5.8 million in revenue for the year ended in March 2019, but with quicker user adoption more recently, the stakes seem to be getting higher. When Tik Tok was banned briefly in India last year on the grounds that it reportedly promoted pornography, the company had told a local court that it was losing roughly $15 million a month due to the ban, according to a Reuters report. The app had subsequently been permitted to operate.
     
  3. Impact on Indian Users
    Generally these restrictions are imposed by the Central government by an interim order through a ‘geo-block', i.e, a technological measure which restricts access to content based on the user's IP address. Though those people who are already having these apps in their mobile phone could access it but cannot use its latest features and the new users cannot download it as it is temporarily suspended from the Google play store and Apple store.

    As Chinese apps were very popular among Indian users due to its easy accessibility and the way it has helped the people in different ways in their work was appreciable. UC Browser, Cam Scanner were very popular apps and its download rate and review on google play store shows how users were contended from them.

    Then comes Tik Tok, a short video maker which has made a very large user base in the country due to its easily accessible and attractive features which helped the people living in different parts of the country whether in big cities or small villages to show their talent and become famous by shooting small videos.

    But then one cannot ignore the repercussion of these apps as its usage was addictive in nature and has made people fall for it without thinking about its consequences and then its ban by the Government of India had almost hit the mental health of those people.
    As of June 2019, it was estimated that there were 120 million monthly Tik Tok users in India.
     
  4. How this move of the government proved to be an opportunity for the Indian app developers?
    Google temporarily blocks access to banned apps in India. This blocking and banning of Chinese apps has created an immense opportunity for the Indian app developers as it has opened a wide way for them.

Substitutes of certain popular Chinese apps's Indian Version is certainly gaining popularity in the Indian Subcontinent like Chingari is an app developed in India is a substitute of Tik Tok and has seen an amazing rise in its download after the ban of Tik Tok as the users of the latter app badly wanted substitute of that and in its absence they certainly get attracted towards it.

Its download increased from 1 million to 100 million within a week, showing a positive sign for the Indian economy and a motivation for Indian app developers and companies. Similarly, other chinese apps have got their substitute like Jio Meet app is the substitute of zoom meeting app which became very popular in the recent days due to lockdown in wake of pandemic. Zoom app was widely used for online classes by schools, colleges and was also used for webinars at large scale so its user base has shifted to the India based Jio Meet app.

Zoho doc scanner which offers users the option to import all files on mass from Cam Scanner has replaced the Cam scanner app. It is not clear yet how say a pdf, or portable document format, created by a user via cam scanner a couple of years ago and backed up in google drive could be transferred to another app such as Adobe Scan or MS Office Lens, unless individually downloaded or re-uploaded.

In this way the Indian companies will be benefited at large. And above all the central government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat app challenge is a humongous opportunity for the people involved in the software development and IT sector and also for the students of the different age groups has got an opening to showcase their skills through this central government's initiative.

Conclusion
The move of the government has brought hope in the hearts of the citizens that the government will not sit quietly if the other country does not respect India and will give a befitting reply to it in need and the present step of banning the apps is the proof of it. It is a kind of revenge taken by the government of India from Chinese government for mishandling the Indian user's data and their unnecessary steps taken on the border area to raise disputes.

This step of Indian government is supported by the other countries like France and the USA. Though this move is widely appreciated on the world level but it is not free from cons as China will not sit quietly on this but overall if we focus on this it has more positive sides than the negative side like, this move gave Indians a chance to shine and show their talent in app development and help the country to bring up the economy which has slowed down due to pandemic and encourages the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative of the central government whose motive is to motivate the Indians to work on their skill and not to depend on anyone for any kind of support.

So from all these initiatives we can hope for the better future of our country, a country which will be free from foreign interventions in the economic spheres and will become more a self reliant country.

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