By- Nilesh Singh
Introduction In the middle rising tensions between Indian and China, the Indian government through its Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology recently blocked for public access the availability of 177 Chinese applications in India. Affected apps include social media apps like TikTok, Helo and WeChat; and other popular apps like ShareIT, UC Browser, CamScanner and Clubfactory and Pubg.India and China were conserving good relationships with each other in various ways economically, politically, culturally etc. Both are members of several international cooperation bodies like the United Nation system organizations,( Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) BRICS etc. Chinese troops attacked Galwan Valley at Ladakh and in this face off 20 Indian army personnel's were killed. Also, several news came regarding compromise with privacy of data of the Indian users who were using Chinese applications. So in light of these burning issues and the losses that Indian citizens suffered, government of India after thinking pros and cons and all the aspects legally, financially and economically banned 177 Chinese apps to safeguard the, sovereignty and integrity of India .
Reason behind banning of the chinese apps in India. China violated the peace treaty with India,and attacked Galwan Valley and killing of 20 Indian army personnel on the border area and then the news of threat to the privacy of data of Indian users added fuel to the situation and worsened the ties between the two countries.
The government said these apps are banned under section 69A of the IT Amendment Act,2008( 69A Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource 1) because they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order. As this amendment in act gives the Central government the power to block public access to any information online- Whether on websites or mobile apps. India banned dozens of Chinese apps in the wake of deadly clashes at the border stand-off. The list of banned apps include Tik Tok, Shareit, Cam scanner, Vigo, Helo Pubg etc.2
The Constitutional Aspects A constitutional aspect to the current ban lies with Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. The State can put reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the nation3. In a way, banning these apps is a restriction to the freedom of speech and expression of the citizens. TikTok became a platform for every section of society to portray their ideas in the form of videos. The banning of the apps results in the restriction of the freedom of expression of such people.
Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India 4, the Court held that the internet is the major means to spread information. Thus, freedom of speech and expression through the internet is a fundamental right. Restrictions can be put following Article 19(2). The Court spoke about the need for a legitimate aim for a restriction on fundamental rights. It also observed that How far the restriction is proportional is a question that we need to look into. The straightaway ban of 59 Chinese applications seems a bit vague. The Government hasn’t given any justification with regard to every application. The threat that particular application poses the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. The Government should have provided content- specific implications.
China counter on banning of the chinese apps in India China has said that it suspects India’s actions could be in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi said, “India’s measure selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far- fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions, and [is suspected] of violating the WTO rules. It also goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India.”5
The Indian government provided an opportunity for the Indian app developers. Google temporarily blocks access to banned apps in India. This blocking and banning of Chinese apps has created an immense opportunity for the Indian app developers as it has opened a wide way for them.
Chinese apps have got their substitute like Jio Meet app is the substitute of zoom meeting app which became very popular in the recent days due to lockdown in wake of pandemic. Zoom app was widely used for online classes by schools, colleges and was also used for webinars at large scale so its user base has shifted to the India based Jio Meet app.
Chingari is an app developed in India is a substitute of Tik Tok and has seen an amazing rise in its download after the ban of Tik Tok as the users of the latter app badly wanted substitute of that and in its absence they certainly get attracted towards it.
In this way the Indian companies will be benefited at large. And above all the central government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat app challenge is a humongous opportunity for the people involved in the software development and IT sector and also for the students of the different age groups has got an opening to showcase their skills through this central government's initiative.
The move of the government has brought hope in the hearts of the citizens that the government will not sit quietly if the other country does not respect India and will give a befitting reply to it in need and the present step of banning the apps is the proof of it. It is a kind of revenge taken by the government of India from Chinese government for mishandling the Indian user's data and their unnecessary steps taken on the border area to raise disputes.
This step of Indian government is supported by the other countries like France and the USA. Though this move is widely appreciated on the world level but it is not free from cons as China will not sit quietly on this but overall if we focus on this it has more positive sides than the negative side like, this move gave Indians a chance to shine and show their talent in app development and help the country to bring up the economy which has slowed down due to pandemic and encourages the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative of the central government whose motive is to motivate the Indians to work on their skill and not to depend on anyone for any kind of support.
So from all these initiatives we can hope for the better future of our country, a country which will be free from foreign interventions in the economic spheres and will become more a self reliant country.
Reference 1 h ttps://indiankanoon.org/doc 2 https://epaper.thehindu.com/ 3 D.D Basu : Shorter Constitution of India 4 Jan 10, 2020 , 5 https://epaper.thehindu.com/
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