The LexGaze Weekly - HOPE

Banning of 59 Chinese Applications by Ministry of Electronics and IT

Sneha Chugh

Issue 4 | July 11, 2020

Not many years ago, countries which had an excess of oil were the superpowers. They ruled the world. Oil was treated as a valuable asset and was preserved at all costs. It could shape the future of economies and make them powerful. This oil culture saw a sudden change in the 21st century. Data replaced the importance and significance of oil. The world started acknowledging data as a crucial tool that could help countries grow and accumulate wealth. The shift from oil to data was so relevant that data came to be known as the new oil. In 2006, Clive Humby coined the phrase ‘Data is the new oil’.

It tells us how data can be a paramount resource for any country. It should be protected through all measures. This week’s edition of the LexGaze Weekly talks about the recent decision taken by the Government of India to ban 59 Chinese applications. It is one of the greatest moves taken by the Indian government to protect our data and privacy.

On 29thJune 2020, the government banned 59 Chinese applications in India including TikTok, UC Browser, CamScanner, WeChat, Shareit and many others. Primarily, this may seem to be a patriotic move to boycott China after the Galwan Valley face-off between the Indian and Chinese army. However, one of the vital reasons for imposing a ban on these Chinese applications is to protect the ‘security and sovereignty’ of India. It has been found that these Chinese applications were obtaining and storing personal data and other relevant information of Indian users. It could cause potential harm to India and allow China to gain undue advantage. The Government of India had received complaints that the banned Chinese applications were stealing data from the users and transmitting it to servers outside India. It was done in an unauthorised manner.

The compilation, mining and profiling of the unauthorised data created an immediate concern to the national security and posed harm to the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Therefore, the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology banned these Chinese applications under Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 and the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009. Internet Service Providers and Play stores have been directed to block and remove the 59 Chinese apps.

Banning 59 Chinese applications in India is a commendable action to safeguard the privacy of mobile users while maintaining security, safety, sovereignty and integrity of India. LexGaze believes that this will instill hope in our readers that the government is taking serious measures to prevent unauthorised collection and transmission of data.

Hope Plus

1. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 has been introduced in the lower house of the Indian Parliament. It is yet to receive the President’s assent. The Bill has been formulated according to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Even though there are several loopholes in the bill, it is a step in the right direction.

2. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Centre concerning the plea on banning the online conferencing application ‘Zoom’ in India. The application had posed serious security threats.

3. According to UNCTAD, 66% countries in the world have adopted legislations to secure data and privacy and 10% of them have drafted legislations related to collection, use and transmission of personal data.

4. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had revised its guidelines on protection of privacy and trans-border flows of personal data in 2013. These guidelines are currently being followed by 37 member countries of OECD.

5. The General Data Protection Regulation was implemented in 2018 for protection of consumer and personal data and privacy in the European Union Countries.

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