India bans over 230 betting and loan lending apps linked to China

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India bans over 230 betting and loan lending apps linked to China

The Indian government on Sunday blocked a total of 232 apps; 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps operated by Chinese and other entities. The decision came about after having confirmed that the apps contained illegal betting, gambling and unauthorised loan service, an official familiar with the matter told the media.

India has previously blocked almost 300 China-backed apps since a lethal border clash broke out between rival armed forces in May 2020, citing potential threats the apps posed to “national sovereignty and integrity”. This includes a ban on TikTok, the hit short video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which had 200 million daily users in the country before it was shut down

The process to ban these apps began last October by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) when it banned 54 Chinese apps, which posed a great threat to India’s security. The same year, the center also issued a strict advisory against showcasing betting or gambling advertisements on OTT platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar.

Under the “Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Paragraph 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022, it is observed that betting and gambling are illegal, advertisements of online offshore betting and gambling platforms are prohibited,” in accordance to an advisory issued by the central ministry.

“The IT ministry has issued blocking orders based on an emergency request issued by a Nodal officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)”, said an official. The Ministry of Home Affairs recommended the MeitY block any apps that “contained material prejudicial to the sovereignty of the country.” Under Section 69(A) of India’s Information Technology Act states any websites or apps that “engage in illegal money laundering and pose a threat to the financial security of our nation.”

“These apps contained material which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity,” one of the officials said. In the past, the IT ministry has blocked close to 400 apps. In June 2020, the government banned 59 apps and in August 2020, it blocked 47 apps.

The first of these bans came due to the political tension with China in 2020, followed by a border clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Galwan Valley, Ladakh. India blocked access to several Chinese apps, banning popular apps, including TikTok and WeChat Messenger.

—- Report in Phayul, Feb 7, 2023