The Information and Technology Ministry on Friday banned 47 apps, which are clones or variants of the Chinese-linked 59 apps that India banned earlier in June.
A source from the Ministry said that “the problem is with the operational ethics of certain apps. This is an ongoing process. If apps qualify under the same grounds of operational ethics, then they will also come under the scanner.”
The source said, “operational ethics” refers to data going back to the Chinese government. The banned apps include Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, VFY Lite. However, the list of additional apps that have been banned wasn’t immediately available, as there is no official word on the matter yet.
Last month, the Centre banned some very popular apps like TikTok, ShareIt, and UC Browser amid border tensions with China.
Reportedly, the government has drawn up a list of 275 Chinese apps and will see if there is any violation in terms of national security and user privacy.
According to a report in The Economic Times, “Tencent-backed PubG, Alibaba-owned Ali Express, phone maker Xiaomi, music streaming app Reso, owned by ByteDance among others are a part of the list of apps that could be banned by the government”.
The Clone Apps that became popular after the first ban
After the government initially banned 59 Chinese apps, many of their clones and similar apps had risen to the top of the Google Play rankings. Notable, Likee Lite, a toned-down version of banned Likee, had appeared on top of Google Play listings a few weeks ago.
Other apps from Chinese developers, such as Snack Video, have also gained from TikTok’s ban. Likee Lite and Bigo Lite have already gone off the app stores.
Snack Video, which is owned by Chinese Kuaishou, got 10 million new downloads between June 29 and July 19, according to data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
This was approximately 59 times the 172,000 downloads the app got between June 8 and June 28, which is the month before the ban.
Another app, Zili, which is published by smartphone stalwart Xiaomi, was the second-largest TikTok alternative, according to Sensor Tower. The firm found that Zili’s downloads grew by 167 percent to nearly 8 million during the same period.
Indian Roposo has the most lifetime downloads with 71 million installs, followed by Zili at 51 million and Dubsmash at 30.4 million. The ministry sent a list of 79 questions to these banned apps and gave them three-weeks’ time to respond, failing which will lead to their permanent ban.