Google and Apple Inc, which run popular mobile operating systems Android and iOS, respectively, were directed to remove these apps from their app stores, and they are expected to comply with the order soon after “due process is followed,” the official added.
Variants of popular Chinese short videos platform TikTok are not in the list, since the ByteDance-owned platform removed its apps soon after the first order was issued on June 29, the official said.
The 59 Chinese apps were banned, citing threats to the country’s “sovereignty and security”. The apps included social media apps TikTok, WeChat and Helo, along with file sharing app ShareIT, UC Browser and shopping app Club Factory.
On Monday, ET reported that the government had drawn up a list of 275 Chinese apps that it would examine for any violation of national security and user privacy, signalling heightened scrutiny and the possibility of more Chinese internet companies being banned.
The exhaustive list, reviewed by ET, includes gaming app PUBG backed by China’s most valuable internet major Tencent, Zili by phone maker Xiaomi, AliExpress by ecommerce giant Alibaba, as well as apps like Resso and ULike from TikTok-owner ByteDance.
Official sources had said that reviews aimed at identifying more Chinese apps and their funding was under way. “Some of these apps have been red-flagged due to security reasons, while others have been listed for violation of data sharing and privacy concerns. The government may ban all, some or none from the list,” the sources said.
The government had also issued strict directions to companies to ensure that none of the banned apps were directly or indirectly available for download in India by any means.
As use of smartphones heads towards 442 million in 2022 with wide availability of cheap data plans, India is recognising the risk to personal data of its citizens, said Sajai Singh, Partner at J Sagar Associates.