India has banned 59 Chinese apps including the immensely popular TikTok short-video service, citing threats to its sovereignty, security and public order, as relations between the two nations worsened.
The blocked apps also include software from the Alibaba tech giant, internet search organisation Baidu and WeChat and Clasj of Kings, owned by Tencent, a gaming company.
The move comes days after escalating border tensions which has killed soldiers on both sides.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement on Monday, there was unauthorised transmission and storage of Indian users’ data in overseas servers and “its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India”.
It remains unclear how the ban will be implemented as most of these apps are already stored on users’ phones.
The government might need to block the app servers and prevent new users from downloading them.
One in three smartphone users in India will be impacted by the ban, Tarun Pathak, associate director with Counterpoint Technology, told Bloomberg.
As the border standoff, which has been brewing for nearly two months worsened, customs officials began halting clearances of industrial consignments coming in from China at major Indian ports and airports.
The app ban is the latest by India as it tries to reduce dependence on Chinese products.
India, with its a half-billion internet users, is an emerging arena for global technology companies from the US to China.
As hundreds of millions of first-time users come online in India, they do so with Chinese smartphones and Chinese apps are their doorway to the internet.
For ByteDance, which counts India as its biggest market with over 200 million TikTok users, the move is a particular blow.