MHA Wants Over 100 Apps Linked To China, Nigeria And Philippines To Be Blocked

MHA Wants Over 100 Apps Linked To China, Nigeria And Philippines To Be Blocked

by Swarajya Staff - Thursday, March 30, 2023 10:45 AM IST
MHA Wants Over 100 Apps Linked To China, Nigeria And Philippines To Be BlockedRepresentative Image

The Ministry of Home affairs (MHA) has created a list of 117 apps connected to China, Philippines and Nigeria.

The MHA has shared the list with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and state law enforcement agencies, urging them to block the apps immediately.

Most of the apps are related to dating, gaming or loans, Economic Times reported citing officials.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) had previously requested the ban of 500 apps that were found to be sending Indian user data to China and other foreign countries.

Recently, the investigation into 117 new apps on Google Play showed that they were also communicating data to overseas destinations.

According to an official quoted in the report, a thorough backend investigation revealed that these entities claiming to provide online loans were not genuine lending entities.

Following the investigation, the state agencies were alerted to take up with Google and investigate the matter, where these apps were limited to a specific state, the official added.

However, if these apps have a presence in multiple locations, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) is initiating action to address the issue.

The growing number of Chinese loan apps has led to suicides due to harassment, blackmail, and harsh recovery practices by the loan firms. 

Additionally, the illicit Chinese loan app companies are using fake invoices to launder money abroad, complicating the matter further.

Officials have raised concerns over digital mobile applications mostly run by Chinese companies that offer small instant loans with interest rates between 17-20 per cent without following know-your-customer (KYC) norms.

State police and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have uncovered several scams where gullible and poor people were deceived into taking these loans without following KYC norms and later harassed.

Intelligence agencies have also expressed worry about data misuse and questioned data sovereignty as servers of these apps are in China.

To obtain a loan, borrowers are required to grant access to their contacts, location, and phone storage - a practice that has resulted in misuse of citizens' data by loan recovery agents located in India and abroad.

Recovery agents have been known to harass and blackmail citizens using manipulated images and other abusive tactics, thereby violating the Reserve Bank of India's Fair Practices Code.

Earlier in February, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) began the process of banning 232 Chinese-linked apps in February of this year following instructions by the MHA. Of these, 138 were betting apps and 94 were involved in lending small amounts.

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