June 29th, 2020:
While I was working out with my regular routine, I suddenly got the news that the Indian Government banned 59 Chinese Apps.
Since there have been rising sentiments against TikTok and Chinese products from the past few days, I was a bit skeptical. It could be another fake news.
Honestly, I didn’t expect the Indian Government to take this step. We have always been going through Anti-Chinese waves.
Then finally I verified to found this press release on the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Electronics & IT.
Even our Electronics & Information Technology Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted the confirmation.
I have never directly mentioned to boycott Chinese apps or avoid using Chinese smartphones. Reason? I have mentioned it further. Keep reading.
However, I always focused on mentioning the alternatives – be it for apps or gadgets.
Thousands of people visit priteshpawar dot com and it is my responsibility to be transparent with the audience to make sure that they know the reality.
But in this case of Chinese apps – this was a necessary step to ban.
However, people are rejoicing for the wrong reasons.
Some people are giggling because they are taking it as India vs China where India won. Others are celebrating because TikTok is no more.
But it was about data privacy.
India tried to ban these apps several times before but we simply could not prove the allegations. Everyone knew that data is at risk but it can’t be traced due to encryption.
Finally, 59 Chinese Apps Banned But Why?
The Ministry of Information Technology smartly banned all these Chinese Apps under section 69A.
[Refer: Press Information Bureau Link]
When something is officially banned from a country, it has to go through deep research and reasoning. They might have done this for sure.
A Ministry can’t wake up and think to react on growing anti-Chinese sentiments by banning apps. There has to be scrutiny and deeper analysis.
No doubt, the ongoing geopolitical issues acted as a catalyst but these applications were indeed dangerous.
I’d distribute the whole scenario into three parts:
1. Mobile Apps and Software
2. Smartphones and Devices
3. Content Creators on Chinese Apps
Mobile Apps and Software
All these 59 Apps had always been under controversies for all the wrong reasons. Be it lack of moderation or data-stealing issues.
Even I covered some of the issues in detail. Check them out.
TikTok, UC Browser, and several others have always been under the radar of spying and stealing data of users.
Now many people might feel that they have no data to hide. It’s not only about you.
When a particular company gets the data of almost half of the population of a country – it is a matter of concern.
The data analysis can also be used to manipulate or form the opinions of individuals by targeting. Importantly, China Govt has control over these Apps.
It’s easier to run propaganda and agendas over such platforms. And that is what used to happen on TikTok.
TikTok deliberately promoted racist content, abusive content, and even sexist content. Worst part? Lack of moderation.
I even reported a few videos but there was no action from TikTok’s side.
Being a social media marketer, I have used TikTok and observed the platform for a brief period of time. My opinions are not based on what we see on the media. They came from practical usage.
Resources (Click to read the complete reports):
 TikTok and Other Apps Are Secretly Reading Your Clipboard
 TikTok Guidelines Asked Moderators to Suppress Ugly, Poor, or Overweight Users: Gadgets NDTV
 Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of Users: Forbes
 In 10 minutes on TikTok I saw self-harm, girls offering sex, boys wielding knives and potentially deadly challenges: TheSun
 TikTok skull-breaker challenge danger warning: BBC News
 The U.S. government fined the app now known as TikTok $5.7 million for illegally collecting children’s data: Washington Post
 Researcher shows how popular app ES File Explorer exposes Android device data: Techcrunch
 The Government Has Named 42 Apps ‘Chinese Spyware’, Including Big Names Like TrueCaller: India Times
 Millions of Android users beware: Alibaba’s UC Browser can be used to deliver malware: ZDNet
I can go on and on. I mean, how can a company deliberately make ‘mistakes’ so many times?
Moreover, China does not even allow foreign apps to operate under its boundaries. The Great Firewall of China is famous for that.
Smartphones & Devices
While Indians can boycott Chinese apps but the hardware part is a bit challenging.
[Check this out: Why Can’t We Manufacture Mobile Phones in India?]
Unfortunately, we are left with very few choices – Apple, Samsung, Asus, Nokia, LG.
For flagship smartphones, it is still easier because Apple and Samsung are doing decent jobs.
But in the mid-range or budget segment, there is hardly any option. Asus, Nokia, and LG are currently in hibernation mode. No smartphones in 2020.
Apple is a premium brand that launches a ‘budget’ smartphone that will make a hole in your pocket. It’s equivalent to the struggle of Ananya Pandey! 🙂
Samsung has some options but if I say about technicalities, it has a poor processor.
This is the reason you won’t find me screaming #BoycottChinese smartphones. It takes time.
A middle-class or a poor person is willing to boycott Chinese smartphones but he simply does not have any options. Also, asking a person to increase the budget from Rs 10k to 12k is a big deal.
Some Chinese brands are even doing a decent job. For example, One Plus, Realme, Oppo, Vivo, POCO, Motorola, and even Xiaomi to some extent.
Again, there are some brands that are strictly no-no. For instance – Tecno, Infinix, Honor, Huawei, etc.
[I have explained in detail here: Misleading Marketing Campaigns Smartphone Brands Use]
Content Creators on Chinese Apps
Being a content creator, I can totally empathize with the feeling when a particular platform is suddenly taken away.
Imagine that you contribute to a platform for months giving hours creating the content. You gain every follower day by day.
And one day… boom! The app has vanished!
It can be the worst thing that can happen to a serious content creator.
Since I closely saw TikTok, I can 100% agree with the fact that TikTok has no better alternative. It has ease to edit and make videos.
No alternatives are even close to TikTok – Mitron, Chingari, or any other app. I have covered it in detail.
However, it is time to support the Government’s decision.
Lesson: Have an omnichannel approach. Don’t be too dependent on a single platform. Build your audience everywhere.
Tip: Many of you might try to use a VPN or even download an APK of apps.
My suggestion: Don’t do that.
When an app is not present on the App Store then it is even riskier. There are no restrictions on the developers. It’s better to wait until the app comes back or simply move to some other platform.
Summarizing my points
- All the banned Chinese Apps were the real threat to the data privacy and it is not completely about India vs China
- Instead of banning smartphones and hardware altogether, try cutting them down slowly
- TikTok and other Apps might come again as this has happened several times before
- Avoid using these Apps even if they come back again
- Content creators and marketers: Diversify your channels and become omnipresent
- Most importantly, avoid harassing the TikTok creators just for the sake of hating
What do you think about the whole situation? Let me know 🙂