The government on Wednesday banned 118 mobile applications linked to China, such as PUBG Mobile Lite, other gaming apps, virtual private network (VPN) services and some productivity apps such as camera scanners. According to the release issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the apps were banned as they have been found to engage in activities against India's sovereignty, security, defence and public order.
"On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that information posted, permissions sought, functionality embedded as well as data harvesting practices of above stated Apps raise serious concerns that these Apps collect and share data in surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the State", the Ministry states.
PUBG Mobile Lite is a mobile-specific and a toned-down version of the popular game Player Unknown's Battleground, a hot favourite mobile game and especially popular among youngsters. It has more than 100 million downloads on the Android Play Store, and is by Tencent Games with an address mentioned in Singapore.
This ban is the third in a series of bans of Chinese-related mobile applications; apparently as a response to Chinese aggression on Indian territory in Ladakh and also fueled by Indian (and global) concerns around data privacy when it comes to tech companies owned by the Chinese.
The first of these bans came on June 29, when TikTok - a short video sharing app, again popular among a younger audience - was among 59 apps banned. Other apps banned included Shein, WeChat, Weibo, Club Factory and Cam Scanner. Incidentally, many virtual private networks or VPNs, used for downloading TikTok have also been banned.
The second wave of bans on July 28 banned 47 apps like TikTok Lite and ShareIT Lite, mostly consisting of clones of apps primarily banned.
The notification can be seen below.
Government Blocks 118 Mobile Apps Which are Prejudicial to Sovereignty and Integrity of India, Defence of India, Security of State and Public Order.— Ministry of Electronics & IT (@GoI_MeitY) September 2, 2020
Press Release issued by @GoI_MeitY regarding blocking of 118 mobile apps https://t.co/VyahsHR5f0