India’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeITY), invoking its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats, has decided to block 59 apps (see the list below) since, in view of the available information, ‘they have been found to be engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State and public order’.
Table: List of 59 apps just banned by the Government of India
Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator in the digital space. At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 1.3 billion Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to the sovereignty and security of India. MeITY has reportedly received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of such data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps. This Ministry has also received many representations citizens regarding the security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps. The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy that has an impact upon public order issues. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India. There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.
On the basis of the above and upon receipt of credible inputs that such apps pose a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India, it seems, has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices. New Delhi believes this move will safeguard the interests of hundreds of millions of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.
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