India bans Chinese apps including TikTok as tension rises

India claimed data 'mining and profiling by elements hostile' to its national security

epa08516565 A woman opens the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok on her smartphone, in Bhopal, central India, 29 June 2020. India's national government in New Delhi has announced it is banning 59 Chinese phone applications – including the increasingly-popular apps TikTok, Helo and WeChat – citing national security concerns. The decision comes amid India's ongoing territorial dispute with China in the Galwan valley of the eastern Himalayan region of Ladakh.  EPA/SANJEEV GUPTA
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India has banned 59 Chinese apps, including the popular TikTok short-video service, claiming threats to its sovereignty, security and public order, as relations between the two nations worsened.

The blocked apps also include software from the Alibaba tech giant, internet search organisation Baidu, and WeChat and Clash of Kings, owned by gaming company Tencent.

The move comes days after border tension killed Indian and Chinese soldiers.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Monday said there was unauthorised transmission and storage of Indian users’ data in overseas servers.

The ministry said that data was mined and profiled "by elements hostile to national security and defence of India”.

It remains unclear how the ban will be implemented because most of these apps are already stored on users’ phones.

The government might need to block the apps' servers and prevent new users from downloading them.

One in three smartphone users in India will be affected by the ban, Tarun Pathak, associate director with Counterpoint Technology, told Bloomberg.

The border standoff, which has been brewing for nearly two months, has worsened.

Indian Customs officials at major ports and airports has begun to halt clearances of industrial consignments from China.

The app ban is the latest by India as it tries to reduce dependence on Chinese products.

India, with its a half-billion internet users, is an emerging arena for global technology companies, from the US to China.

Hundreds of millions of first-time users are coming online in India with Chinese smartphones and Chinese apps.

The move is a particular blow for ByteDance, which says India is its biggest market, having more than 200 million TikTok users.