India on Monday banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, over national security and privacy concerns two weeks after a deadly Himalayan border clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Relations between the world’s two most populous nations have been strained following the deaths of 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese ones in hand-to-hand combat on the western end of the high-altitude, contested border in mid-June.
China has declined to reveal its casualties despite some Chinese news reports putting it at over 40.
The Ministry of Information Technology said in a statement: “The apps are engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
“[India] has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps. This decision is a targeted move to ensure the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
The statement said the move was taken after the ministry received several complaints alleging theft of users’ data and violations of user privacy.
It was unclear when the ban would come into force.
Most of the applications are highly popular in India, including ByteDance-owned video-sharing apps TikTok and Helo, file-sharing app SHAREit and Alibaba’s UC browser and UC News, with a combined user base of more than half a billion.
There are estimated to be about 120 million TikTok users in India, making the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people the app’s biggest international market.