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Garena Free Fire and 53 other Chinese apps banned over national security concerns

Highlights

  • 54 Chinese apps have been banned in India
  • The list of newly banned apps includes the widely popular Garena Free Fire
  • The banned apps will not be available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store

Garena Free Fire and 53 other Chinese apps have been banned by the Government of India. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, these have been banned under Section 69A of the IT Act. To recall, India had banned 267 Chinese apps in India including PUBG Mobile, TikTok, Weibo, AliExpress, Xender, UC browser, and more.

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The detailed list of 54 banned apps hasn’t been released yet. The disappearance of Free Fire from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store suggests that it could be one of the apps that have been recently banned by the Indian government.

54 Chinese apps banned by the Indian government

Here are some of the names of the apps that have been removed from the Play Store and App Store now: Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera, Equalizer & Bass Booster, CamCard for SalesForce Ent, Isoland 2, Ashes of Time Lite, Viva Video Editor, Tencent Xriver, Omyoji Chess, Onmyoji Arena, AppLock, and Dual Space Lite.

With the inclusion of 54 more apps in the banned list, the list of total apps banned by the Indian government has reached around 324 mark. There is no official word on why Garena Free Fire, which is developed by Singapore-based Sea Limited, has gone missing from app stores. Krafton, the developers of PUBG, recently filed a lawsuit against Garena for copying PUBG Battlegrounds.

It has also sued Google and Apple for giving access to Garena games namely, Free Fire and Free Fire Max, on their app stores to users. It is unclear whether the recent lawsuits by Krafton could be the reason behind the disappearance of Free Fire from the app stores.

54 banned Chinese apps collected sensitive user data

According to a report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the newly banned apps are either a cloned version or have similar features, privacy concerns, and security issues that were seen on the 267 apps that were banned last year. The 54 banned Chinese apps allegedly obtained many critical permissions and collected user data in real time.

The IT ministry’s statement read, “These collected real-time data are being misused and transmitted to servers located in a hostile country. This will enable them to compile huge personal data to mine, collate, analyse and profile by the elements who are hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of India and for activities detrimental to national security.”

It further mentioned, “In addition, there are other serious concerns as some of these apps can carry out espionage and surveillance activities via camera/mic, accessing fine location (GPS) and do malicious network activity similar to previously blocked apps. These apps were allegedly engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of the country also posing serious threat to security of the state and defence of India.”

To recollect, the Government of India banned 59 apps back in June 2020 and it was followed by a ban of 47 apps in August 2020. In September 2020, it banned 118 apps and 43 more apps were added to the list in November of the same year. Among these apps, 59 have been permanently banned by the Indian government.

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Anvinraj Valiyathara

Anvinraj has been writing about smartphones and other gadgets for over 10 years, with 10,000+ articles published to date. He owns a POCO X3 Pro and Realme X7 Max 5G. His interests include exploring new places, reading, photography, and church activities. At Pricebaba, he covers breaking news and features.