The Indian government on Monday banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns. Both sides have also deployed more troops to the contested Ladakh region in the last week following a deadly skirmish earlier in the month.
The fighting along the disputed border region between the world’s two most populous countries left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unconfirmed number of Chinese soldiers dead. It also remains unclear as to which side started the skirmish, as both sides claim portions of the valley, and both countries believe that the other intruded. The clash was worst in the last 50 years. Tensions had been easing between the two sides only last week, as both parties called for diplomacy and de-escalation within the region.
The Indian government said that they have “received many complaints from various sources” around the alleged misuse of the apps as well as “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data.” They continued by saying these data mining allegations are “hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India.” The order “disallow(s) the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” in an effort “to ensure (the) safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
TikTok’s largest foreign market is Indian, with estimates of as many as one-third of its total global users based in the country. China has long faced allegations of hiding intelligence-gathering operations withing commercial endeavors. The US has also investigated the company for illegally sending user data back to China. Notably, the US State Department this week also labeled several Chinese news organizations as foreign missions.