Modi govt’s new direction to 59 banned Chinese apps: Ensure compliance or face penal action

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Published: July 22, 2020 6:30 AM

The sources further said the ban was imposed in exercise of the sovereign powers and section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

Recently, there has been a surge of VPN service offered by certain players for as low as Rs 150 per month, allowing users to access TikTok and other banned apps. Recently, there has been a surge of VPN service offered by certain players for as low as Rs 150 per month, allowing users to access TikTok and other banned apps.

With reports emerging that some of the banned Chinese apps are still available to consumers, the government has written to all the companies to ensure compliance, failing which strict action will be taken against them. According to sources, the ministry of electronics and IT (Meity) on Tuesday wrote to the 59 app companies that continued availability and operation of these banned apps, directly or indirectly, is not only illegal but also an offence under the Information Technology Act and other applicable acts, which would attract penal provisions.

The sources further said the ban was imposed in exercise of the sovereign powers and section 69A of the Information Technology Act. “If the app is found to be made available by the company through any means for use within India, directly or indirectly, it would be construed as a violation of the government orders,” said the source.

The government on June 29 had banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat, Shareit, UC Browser, etc. The government had received complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of these apps for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers located outside India. “Upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the government has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile internet enabled devices. This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users,” the government had said.

But despite the ban, many of the apps are still available to consumers through VPN (virtual private network) and other sources. The mobile operators and internet service providers can’t block the apps if it is accessed through VPN. Recently, there has been a surge of VPN service offered by certain players for as low as Rs 150 per month, allowing users to access TikTok and other banned apps. The VPN allows a person to shield his or her physical location and also hide the IP address.

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