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Tech

With TikTok Banned in India, Is It The Perfect Time to Launch Facebook Lasso & Instagram Reels?

Just a few hours ago, the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the 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 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across all platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. All big names, but one does truly stand out.

But does this open up the door for Facebook to take advantage of the situation and introduce the Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels products in India. At this time, with TikTok inaccessible, all the creators and influencers on the platform are searching for a viable alternative to ply their trade. And show their creative side. This could be a good time for Facebook to simply bring their TikTok alternatives, because people need to switch. And fast. Never has there been a more ready-made demographic of users, just waiting to sign up.

Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels, With WhatsApp as the secret ingredient

Facebook Lasso also has similar set of features as TikTok, including the ability to shoot and post 15-second videos. You can overlay these with popular music tracks, filters, effects, hashtags, the ability to directly share to Facebook and more. At this time, Lasso has pretty limited availability around the world, including the US, though it has already seen more than 5,000,000 downloads just on the Google Play Store till now. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, has a similar product for that photo sharing social media platform as well. It is called Instagram Reels and that’s also all about the magic of 15-second videos, dressed up with a variety of music tracks, filters and editing tools. This app also has limited availability right now, including Brazil, Germany and France.

In India, WhatsApp could prove to be the secret ingredient for Lasso or Reels, whichever one Facebook does eventually decide to launch in India. If at all. A simple integration in the most popular instant messaging app could make all the difference in terms of popularizing the new video sharing platform and give it the sort of adoption push that would otherwise be unimaginable.

TikTok’s numbers must have worried Facebook

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has climbed the popularity charts rapidly. The ability to showcase creativity and talent in quick 15-second videos had caught the attention of the masses. And that is truer in India than anywhere else in the world. According to data analytics firm App Annie, India accounted for 323 million, which is 44%, of the total 740 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 across all platforms. They also suggest that Indians spent 5.5 billion hours on the TikTok app last year. In fact, at the beginning of this year, it was reported that ByteDance was targeting Rs 100 crore in revenue in India, banking on new quick advert formats for brands as well.

While TikTok’s revenue targets were still no match for Facebook, TikTok’s active user base was proving to be a headache for the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook. According to regulatory filings by Facebook, they clocked Rs 892 crore in revenue in India in 2018-19.

Does TikTok still have a future?

TikTok has confirmed that they have been invited to meet with the Government to respond to the order and submit clarifications. TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is on the list of banned apps. At this time, TikTok is also not available for download on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the Apple App Store for the iPhone. “The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India, in a statement. The company says they continue to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Gandhi insists that even if they are requested to do so in the future, they would not. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” says Gandhi.


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Tech

Banned in India, TikTok to Meet Govt Panel to Present 'Clarification', Says Will Comply With Privacy Needs

Image for representation (Reuters)

Image for representation (Reuters)

The Chinese apps banned in India include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 30, 2020, 10:47 AM IST

Just a few hours after the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country, TikTok has confirmed that they have been invited to meet with the Government to respond to the order and submit clarifications. TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is on the list of banned apps. At this time, TikTok is also not available for download on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the Apple App Store for the iPhone.

“The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India, in a statement. The company says they continue to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Gandhi insists that even if they are requested to do so in the future, they would not. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” says Gandhi.

Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the 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 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.


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Categories
Tech

India Bans 59 Popular Chinese Apps: Status Check On TikTok, Likee, Helo, WeChat, CamScanner & More

Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the 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 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. As we do a status check this morning on some of the popular apps in this list, we notice that some are available on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the App Store for the Apple iPhone, yet some app listings have been removed.

A quick search for the incredibly popular TikTok on the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store for the iPhone doesn’t reveal favorable results for fans and users. The app, developed by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Incidentally, another social media app Helo is also presently unavailable on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

TikTok has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

It is expected that while app listings for all 59 apps on the list issued by the Government of India will be taken down from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store at some point. For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.

The purge on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store may take some time though. As of the time of writing this, apps including Likee, Vigo Video, WeChat, CamScanner and UC Browser are still available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners.

or the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network

“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.

This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.

This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high


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Tech

TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser and 56 Other Chinese Apps Banned by India over National Security Concerns

India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

The ban, which comes in the backdrop of current stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh with Chinese troops, also includes WeChat and Bigo Live.

The list of apps that have been banned also include Helo, Likee, Cam Scanner, Vigo Video, Mi Video Call, Xiaomi, Clash of Kings as well as e-commerce platforms Club Factory and Shein. This marks the largest sweep against the Chinese technology companies.

The Information Technology Ministry in a statement said it has received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement said.

The IT Ministry said it has invoked its power under section 69A of the IT Act and rules, and has decided to block 59 apps in view of information available that they are “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

The move will “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”, it added.

The list included prominent names like TikTok (which has over 200 million users in India), SHAREit, WeChat, UC Browser, Helo, Likee and Cam Scanner, among others.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps, the statement said, adding that there has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of citizens. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside Parliament.

“On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” it added.

Comments from these companies could not be immediately obtained.

“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” the statement said.

Over 2015-19, Chinese investors including Alibaba, Tencent, TR Capital and Hillhouse Capital, have invested over USD 5.5 billion in Indian startups, according to Venture Intelligence that tracks private equity, venture capital, M&A transactions and valuations, in India.

Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move was taken to ensure the country’s integrity and protect data and privacy of Indians.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel also welcomed the decision, adding that the government has to take more substantial measures in light of the Chinese intrusion and unprovoked attack on Indian Army.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the ban will be a big support to its ‘Boycott Chinese Goods’ campaign.

“This huge unprecedented step will go a long way in strengthening the ‘Boycott China’ campaign of CAIT. Boycott China movement is now well and truly a national reality and seven crore traders of India stands in solidarity with the Union Government,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a statement.

ShareChat Director Public Policy Berges Malu also welcomed the move. “This is a welcome move from the government against platforms that have had serious privacy, cyber security and national security risks. We expect the government to continue their support for the Indian startup ecosystem,” he said.

The full list of banned apps is as follows:

TikTok, Shareit, Kwai, UC Browser, Baidu map, Shein, Clash of Kings, DU battery saver, Helo, Likee, YouCam makeup, Mi Community, CM Browser, Virus Cleaner, APUS Browser, ROMWE, Club Factory, Newsdog, Beauty Plus, WeChat, UC News, QQ Mail, Weibo, Xender, QQ Music, QQ Newsfeed, Bigo Live, SelfieCity, Mail Master, Parallel Space, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi, WeSync, ES File Explorer, Viva Video – QU Video Inc, Meitu, Vigo Video, New Video Status, DU Recorder, Vault- Hide, Cache Cleaner DU App studio, DU Cleaner, DU Browser, Hago Play With New Friends, Cam Scanner, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile, Wonder Camera, Photo Wonder, QQ Player, We Meet, Sweet Selfie, Baidu Translate, Vmate, QQ International, QQ Security Center, QQ Launcher, U Video, V fly Status Video, Mobile Legends, DU Privacy.

(With inputs from PTI)


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Categories
Tech

Chinese Apps Flagged by Indian Intel Agencies: TikTok, Xiaomi Apps and 50 Others on List

Indian intelligence agencies have reportedly flagged 52 apps with ‘links to China’ as being detrimental towards national security, many of which remain popular among Indian users. As per reports citing sources with knowledge of the matter, apps that have allegedly been flagged as potentially dangerous include popular ones such as social media platforms TikTok and Bigo Live, file sharing service Shareit, UC Browser mobile web browser, women-centric e-commerce platform Shein, popular game Clash of Kings and a whole bunch of apps made and pre-bundled by India’s largest smartphone seller, Xiaomi.

Reports further suggest that the list, which is said to have been furbished by multiple Indian intelligence agencies, has also received the backing of the Indian National Security Council Secretariat. One apparent entry in the list of apps that have been flagged by Indian agencies is Zoom, the video conferencing service that has seen heavy traction, buoyed by the Covid-19 pandemic that forced people to switch to working from home, and hosting meetings via video conferencing. The full list of apps being said to have been flagged are as follows:

360 Security, APUS Browser, Baidu Map, Baidu Translate, BeautyPlus, Bigo Live, CacheClear DU apps studio, Clash of Kings, Clean Master – Cheetah, ClubFactory, CM Browser, DU Battery Saver, DU Browser, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, DU recorder, ES File Explorer, Helo, Kwai, LIKE, Mail Master, Mi Community, Mi Store, Mi Video call-Xiaomi, NewsDog, Parallel Space, Perfect Corp, Photo Wonder, QQ International, QQ Launcher, QQ Mail, QQ Music, QQ NewsFeed, QQ Player, QQ Security Centre, ROMWE, SelfieCity, SHAREit, SHEIN, TikTok, UC Browser, UC News, Vault-Hide, Vigo Video, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, WeChat, Weibo, WeSync, Wonder Camera, Xender and YouCam Makeup.

Security concerns about apps promoted by Chinese developers have come into spotlight in lieu of rising tensions between the two nations. Even beyond India, other nations have consistently raised questions regarding apps made and marketed by Chinese promoters, underlining the security aspect and questioning the data collection practices that these apps offer. Xiaomi, one of the most notable household names among Chinese brands in India, recently faced the mirth when its browser was found to be collecting user data even in incognito mode.

Bytedance group, the makers of TikTok, Helo and other apps, have also faced consistent criticism for various data discrepancies and security lapses. With these apps now flagged by intelligence agencies, it remains to be seen if official action will be taken against them. As of now, all 52 of them are live on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store.


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