Despite India banning certain popular Chinese apps in the wake of border skirmishes with China last year, some of those apps are still present and thriving in the country with different names.
Last year, the government banned 267 Chinese apps using the provision of Section 69A under the IT Act. These apps included TikTok, PUBG, Helo, UC Browser, Likee, Shareit, WeChat, Mi Community, and more.
“The Ministry of Electronics and IT has issued the order for blocking the access of these apps… based on the comprehensive reports received from the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs… The government is committed to protecting the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that,” the Centre had said.
However, some popular apps that were banned directly have made an unnoticed entry into India, as most of the companies have tried to hide their Chinese ownership of the apps. Most of the apps belong to the media and entertainment space, which was earlier captured by TikTok and SnackVideo.
“Lookalike apps with different names are functioning with the tag Make in India. Does it make sense to have the apps with Chinese money calling themselves Indian apps? We need to take a stand now and start building unicorns with Indian money to become financially and socially independent from foreign sources,” Neeraj Bisht, Founder, Bharatam, an Indian homegrown social media app, told IANS.
CamScanner is a preferred app for many Indian users when it comes to scanning documents on a mobile device. While CamScanner is part of the banned Chinese applications in the country, it is still doing business here.
“Many Chinese apps which were blocked and banned by the government of India are still doing good business in the country. Many of them are publishers and work with large Indian advertisers, earning money from showing ads. This is against the spirit of the ban which the government had triggered. One example is ShareIt. It is banned by the government, but many Indian advertisers still use it for running ads,” Dhiraj Gupta, CTO, and Co-founder, mFilterIt, said.
Chinese e-commerce apps Shein and Club Factory were taking orders and delivering products in India despite being banned. However, currently, the main app is not available in India, but many clone apps can be downloaded via the Google App Store.
“Digital is imposing a new kind of challenge, where regulations cannot be implemented without actively leveraging the technology. Our approach here is not effective. Other countries, including China, will keep on finding loopholes and opportunities to stay in India. We have to develop real-time regulatory systems which mean active monitoring of the ‘surface web’ to report and bring down any anomalies,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC, said.