In a major announcement, the Centre on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps in a show of coercive diplomacy with China amid simmering tensions between the two countries.
Signalling strong intent, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced the ban, while noting the security threat these apps pose.
The list of apps found to be flouting section 69A of the IT Act comprises popular ones like TikTok, WeChat, Helo, UC Browser, Shein, CamScanner, Mi Community, Likee, Bigo Live and Vigo Video.
While the move has been hailed by many in support of the 'Boycott China' protest, it may perplex smartphone users with a lot of questions and challenges, especially social media influencers.
How will the ban be implemented?
The government's notification issued concerning the ban will be followed by instructions to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block these apps. After this, users are expected to soon see a display message restricting access to the said apps. Essentially, users will not be able to use the apps.
Since apps like TikTok and UC Browser need a live feed, they will not automatically disappear from a user's phone. The connection to app server will not happen. The users might still be able to continue using apps that don't require an active internet connection. However, further fresh downloads of these banned apps are blocked on Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. Besides blocking the apps, the second layer of restriction will come in the form of prospective downloads of updates and patches that may make the apps redundant for existing users.
Meanwhile, MeitY is also coordinating with the department of telecommunication to create further road blocks for use of these apps in case of existing users.
Will the ban be permanent?
TikTok was banned in India earlier as well. The Madras High Court banned the app for a few days last year, but it was back again soon after the court abdicated the ban. But, given the current situation, the ban this time is more sweeping, impacting more apps, and has been done in a specific strategic and national security context.
How to permanently delete Chinese apps from users' phones?
According to cyber experts the banned apps will not automatically disappear from a user's phone, however, the connection to app server will not happen. Users will not get any new updates. In order to effectively remove the banned apps from phones, users can first ensure data backup, and factory reset the phones rather than simply deleting the apps.
What if the apps are already installed on users' phones?
The government is already in talks with ISPs and telecom service providers to block all data traffic linked to the banned Chinese apps. Once the process is complete, these apps will automatically become non-functional by default.