All the permanently banned apps had already been censured in the Indian internet space as part of the government’s unprecedented action against a total of 267 apps (in various batches) since June-end last year.
The government had originally initiated action against the Chinese apps under Section 69A of the IT Act, accusing them of engaging in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order.
The permanent ban comes in after officials in the IT Ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the companies to various queries raised by the government, including their data collection and data processing methods as well as those around data security and privacy.
Others believed to have been permanently banned include SHAREit, Likee, Weibo, and Xiaomi’s Mi Community.
The government had started to squeeze the influence and sway of Chinese apps in India in view of the growing tensions (including on the border) between the two countries, especially as they were accused of misusing the data of Indian citizens and businesses, surveillance and engaging in anti-India activities.
Those ordered blocked in the previous rounds had been served notice by the IT Ministry and were asked to provide details with regards to their operations in India, their subscribers, their data collection and information processing practices, among other things.
The long list of questions also sought details about “unauthorised data access” by the Chinese companies to having weak security features leading to espionage or surveillance through unauthorised data access.
Official sources said that the companies were served notice around the permanent ban last week on an individual basis.
A spokesperson for Xiaomi said, “Mi India is in compliance with all government orders and will continue to do so and engage with the relevant stakeholders for the same.”