India on Monday announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps that included popular short video-sharing social media platform TikTok, Likee, Helo, and few other mobile applications. India said that these apps were banned because they "engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order."

Miffed by India's decision, the Chinese cried foul and said that the move was discriminatory and a suspected violation of the WTO guidelines. In a statement, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson said that the apps were operating "strictly in accordance with Indian laws and regulations" and asked India to acknowledge the mutually beneficial nature of China-India economic and trade cooperation.

Just a day after India's ban on Chinese apps, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Chinese tech firms Huawei, ZTE and their subsidiaries "national security threat". The move will bar US telecom companies from using USD 8.3 billion Federal Universal Service Fund on equipment or services produced or provided by these Chinese firms.

China's data-sharing law

At the centre of both the decisions by India and the US was China's data-sharing law. According to the data-sharing norms under a Chinese law, companies of Chinese origin are required to share data with that country's intelligence agencies, irrespective of the country they are operating from. US FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a statement put out on Twitter after announcing the move to designate Huawei and ZTE as "security threats," had also cited this as the reason.

"Both Huawei and ZTE have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus. And both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law, which obligates them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services," Pai said.

The Government of India has also given the banned Chinese apps 48 hours to provide clarifications about their data-sharing norms under the said Chinese law. According to a report by The Indian Express, the Indian government will also ask companies without a presence in India but their apps are being used to appoint a local grievance officer.

Although the government's ban order is interim in nature, some of the apps have vanished from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India. The government is also likely to ask internet providers in India to block these Chinese apps.

Posted By: Shashikant Sharma