The Government of India has “initiated” the process to ban and block as many as 138 betting and 94 loan lending apps with alleged links to China. The development was first reported by news agency ANI. The communication to ban and block the 234 mobile apps on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis was issued to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) by the Home Ministry over alleged security concerns.
Chinese loan lending and betting apps have been under the Government’s radar for some time. The Home Ministry had started analysis of some of these apps six months ago and it was discovered that many of them were operating through third-party stores and links. Some were also accepting cryptocurrencies as payment.
The fresh development comes after the Government found the apps “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order” under section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Apps like TikTok and PUBG Mobile have previously been banned under the same act.
There have been several complaints against China-backed money lending or loan taking apps who have been accused of extortion and harassment. The matter however picked up steam after a spate of suicides particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by people who had taken loans or lost money to betting apps was reported. The state governments of Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh along with central intelligence agencies had reportedly urged the central government to take cognisance of the matter and take necessary action against these apps.
Many of the apps on the list are no longer available to download on smartphones but it might be possible to download them through their independent websites though if history is anything to go by, very soon, they might become inaccessible from an IP level as telcos move to block them.