Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), informed the Parliament that the government has so far blacklisted 348 apps for allegedly gathering user information and sending it inadvertently to servers worldwide.
Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Chandrasekhar said, “Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has identified 348 mobile applications which were collecting users’ information and transmitting it in an unauthorised manner to servers located outside the country for profiling.”
Profiling is data gathered by companies that could identify a user. User profiles, often known as the “digital representation” of a person, are frequently criticised for invading their privacy to provide customised marketing services.
The apps were created in “various countries,” including China, according to the MoS.
MeitY blocked the apps in response to numerous requests from the MHA. The Minister explained the reasons why such data transmissions violate the sovereignty, integrity, and defence of the country and the security of the state.
The move is a part of a broader effort against apps that are allegedly connected to China or believed to have originated in China. To protect the state’s sovereignty, integrity, defence, and security, the government has prohibited 320 Chinese apps during the past two years under the Information Technology Act of 2000.
Chandrasekhar informed the Rajya Sabha last month that some of the Chinese apps that were blocked were re-listing on app stores in new formats, either by rebranding themselves or using similar names.
He said that MeitY has submitted to the MHA to review all such reports about the re-entry of restricted Chinese apps into the Indian market.
Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a well-known battle royale game, was also taken off from Google Play and the Apple App Store in India last week. Later, it was revealed that the access had been restricted due to the company’s connections to China.
The prohibitions uphold the government’s position on localising customer data.
The administration wanted stringent regulations in the draft Personal Data Protection Bill to enable local processing of critical personal data. Nevertheless, on Wednesday, the Bill was withdrawn.