TikTok has been removed from the App Store and Google Play in India. The app was banned on Monday night on an order by the Ministry of Information and Technology, which also banned 58 other popular apps from China, stating that they were a threat to India’s security and society. Stating that these apps violated the privacy of users and stored their data outside India, the government gave notice to Apple and Google to remove all 59 apps and asked ISPs and telecom companies to help enforce the ban as well. The first app on the list, TikTok, has already been removed from the stores and can’t be downloaded, although the app is still working fine for the moment. This means that if you have TikTok installed on your phone, you can keep using it, for now, but if you remove it for any reason, you will not be able to get it back.
In its statement, the government said, “invoking it’s power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 59 apps since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the state and public order.”
At this point, many of the other apps on the list are still available for download. Shareit, the second app on the list, is still available, as are other popular apps like CamScanner, Shein, and Clash of Kings. Some other apps from the list have also been removed by now though, such as the Helo app, although another similar app, Likee, is still available. If you were a regular user of some of the more popular apps on the list, then Alif Media Solutions has found some alternatives you can use.
Although the official statement focuses on security and defense, it’s clear that the selection of these 59 apps has to do with the tensions between India and China. Although Tiktok has been banned a couple of times in the recent past, it has quickly come back. In this case, however, it might take longer for the banned apps to return, if at all.