India bans 54 more Chinese apps over security concerns

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Driven by security concerns, India has blocked access to 54 mobile apps, mostly of Chinese origin, including the game Free Fire, which is owned by Sea Ltd, government sources said on Tuesday, confirming media reports from yesterday.

Indian authorities have made no formal comment. Sea, which is headquartered in the southeast Asian city of Singapore, also had no immediate comment.

India has banned a total of 321 apps since political tensions first erupted with its giant neighbor in 2020, leading to the South Asian nation’s initial banning of 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok .

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Sea shares plunged 18.4% in New York on Monday to wipe more than $16 billion from the company’s market value, following reports of the latest ban.

Asked about the ban at its annual general meeting on Monday, Sea told shareholders the company was “working on it,” according to a person who attended the meeting.

India believes user data was being sent through the apps to servers in China, the government source, who requested anonymity in accordance with policy, told Reuters.

“It will allow them to compile huge personal data,” the source said.

Such collection would allow data to be mined, aggregated, analyzed and profiled, most likely by “elements hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of India and for activities detrimental to national security”, the statement added. source.

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The ban is causing problems for Sea, as its e-commerce app, Shopee, is already facing boycott calls from merchants in India, who accuse it of business practices that harm offline merchants.

Trade group Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) has complained to regulators against Shopee and was “surprised” at its absence from India’s banned list, the group’s general secretary, Praveen Khandelwal, said on Twitter on Monday. .

Sea’s Shopee, the dominant player in Southeast Asia, expanded into Latin America, Europe and India in 2021. (Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru, Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi and Fanny Potkin in Singapore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Clarence Fernandez)

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