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India has banned video-sharing social network TikTok and messaging platform WeChat along with 57 other Chinese developed apps over national security and privacy concerns, as tensions between the two countries continue to rise.
On Monday, India’s Ministry of Information Technology blocked 59 China-made apps because they were “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”
The move comes as tensions between India and China escalate after a dispute earlier this month on the Himalayan border turned deadly and left 20 Indian soldiers dead. A wave of anti-China sentiment has swept across India in the wake of the border skirmishes, including growing calls for a boycott of Chinese goods.
The ban will come as a major blow to TikTok, which reportedly has 200 million monthly users in India, as well as to top Indian content creators such as Nisha Guragain, Arishfa Khan and Jannat Zubair who have followings of more than 20 million respectively on the social network. India is also responsible for 30 percent of TikTok’s global downloads of 2 billion.
In a statement posted to Twitter, TikTok India chief Nikhil Gandhi said, “The government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications. 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. Further, if we are requested to in the future, we could not do so. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity.”
“TikTok has democratized the internet by making it available in 14 Indian languages, with hundreds of millions of users, artists, story-tellers, educators and performers depending on it for their livelihood, many of whom are first-time internet users,” the statement added.
As well as Bytedance’s TikTok and Tencent-owned WeChat, the banned list of apps includes the popular mobile game Clash of Kings, social media app Weibo, Baidu Maps and Baidu Translate, Alibaba Group’s apps UC Browser and UC News and Tencent’s QQ suite of apps.
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