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WeChat stops working in India days after government banned it, 58 other Chinese apps

WeChat has issued a notification to its users that reads: "Pursuant to Indian law we are unable to offer you WeChat at this time."

twitter-logoShubham Verma | July 27, 2020 | Updated 19:01 IST
WeChat logo on a phone screen. (Source: Reuters)

Highlights

  • WeChat was launched in India in 2013 amid growing demand for IM apps.
  • Following govt's orders to ban 59 Chinese apps, WeChat has officially shut its services.
  • WeChat is also said to have winded up its business in India.

WeChat has reportedly suspended its services in India days after the popular chat app and 58 other Chinese apps were banned by the government. The WeChat users in India were logged out of the apps over the last weekend, followed by a formal notification sent by the company to its users. WeChat was primarily used by people to communicate with contacts roaming or living in China as apps such as WhatsApp, Hangouts, Messenger, and Telegram do not work there.

In the notification, WeChat wrote: "Pursuant to Indian law we are unable to offer you WeChat at this time. We value each of our users, and data security and privacy are of utmost importance to us. We are engaging with relevant authorities and hope to be able to resume service in the future." While the company did not say if this moratorium of services will be reversed, multiple reports have noted the company is calling it quits for the Indian market. Earlier, UC Web, the company behind UC Browser, was speculated to be shutting its business.

WeChat was officially launched in India in 2013 at a time when instant messaging was catching up with the country's internet populace. The Chinese chat app took a huge leap in the following years to garner a huge customer base in India. It even ran a campaign endorsing Bollywood actors Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra back in its heydays, which the company states, brought in 20 - 25 million subscribers. However, the popularity of the chat app nosedived and it eventually succumbed to the increasing adoption of WhatsApp for its ease of access.

Although WeChat nearly went extinct from India's app charts, it was still primarily being used by people who would want to communicate with anyone who is in China. These include many key officials of tech companies headquartered in China. With WeChat now suspending its services in the Indian market, people are worried how they will keep in touch with their contacts for as instant as they would want (some email clients do work in China and can be used for communication).

Meanwhile, the Indian government has reportedly banned 47 more apps that were found violating privacy and security norms laid down by the Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY). These apps include the lightweight versions of already-banned apps such as TikTok Lite, Vigo Lite, UC Lite. The government is also putting a total of 257 apps under scrutiny for their behaviour that will be accessed over time and if found detrimental to India's safety will be banned. The hit battle royale PUBG is a part of the second list of apps under surveillance.

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