India banned wildly popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok and 58 others on Monday after a border clash between troops from both countries left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead this month.
The apps, which range from gaming to music streaming and social media, are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” India’s Ministry of Information Technology said in a statement on Monday.
In addition to TikTok, the banned mobile apps include those owned by some of China’s largest and most influential tech companies, including Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, Baidu’s Twitter-like platform known as Weibo, and Xiaomi’s video calling app Mi Video Call. It’s unclear how the ban will be enforced among India’s existing users who have already downloaded the apps on their phones, but it’ll block potential new users as Apple and Google will have to remove these apps from iOS and Android stores.
The ban comes as anti-China sentiment has erupted in India following a deadly clash in June along a disputed border between India and China high in the Himalayas, which led to an escalation in tensions between the two neighbouring countries. The fallout has included widespread calls for boycotts of Chinese products, including phones and software. Chinese phone maker Oppo cancelled a live online launch of itsin light of the diplomatic flare-up between the two countries.
India’s technology ministry also said it has received multiple complaints involving the misuse of mobile apps for “for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner” to servers located outside India. The government ministry went on to call the situation a matter of “very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”
amassing an estimated 120 million users there, says it’s in the process of complying with the ban and has been invited to meet with government stakeholders to submit clarifications. The social media company also denied sharing any user data with the Chinese government.
“TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government,” Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok India, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity.”
Home to more than 1.3 billion people, India is a promising market opportunity for Chinese tech companies partly because millions of people have only recently come online for the first time with most of them doing so through a smartphone. Still, the South Asian country has a relatively large percentage of its population that does not have internet connectivity.
Research firm Canalys described the ban as “a blow to the Chinese app industry that loses a strong installed base outside its home country,” in a post on Twitter on Tuesday.