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Startup Street: Experts discuss impact of the Chinese app ban on homegrown startups

Updated : June 30, 2020 09:01 PM IST

The government of India announced the ban of 59 Chinese apps in the country under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. This list includes applications like TikTok which is easily one of the most popular video-sharing apps in India, file sharing app Shareit, UC Browser, and CamScanner.

But what happens next? It is important to understand banning apps is not a switch that can't be turned on and off overnight. Both Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store are platforms that have legal app removal processes since they are dealing with third party IPs.

Users might still be able to use these apps especially those that don't need an active internet connection, however further downloads of some of these apps may not be possible.

As of now, none of the telcos or platforms like apple or google have received any notification beyond this order by the Ministry of Information and Technology. This order will now be followed up with specific instructions from the government to internet service providers to block these apps.

TikTok was removed both from Apple's App Store and also Google's Play Store. Sources tell CNBC-TV18 that this has been done proactively. This is not the first time an app has been banned in India. In fact, the TikTok app was blocked for a few days in April 2019 by Madras High Court citing the spread of pornographic content on the video-sharing platform.

TikTok's parent company ByteDance had filed a counter-affidavit and appealed to the apex court against the High Court's order. Post this, India lifted its nationwide ban on the app. Basically, this 'emergency' ban order against the 59 Chinese apps is not final, MeitY will set up a committee to allow these Chinese apps to submit clarifications.

So as per procedure, apps can make an appeal but given the fact the government has drawn out this list, it goes to show that their intent is clear and the government is determined to move in this direction.

The Chinese embassy has responded to India's measures and said that the measures selectively and discriminatorily aim at certain Chinese apps. Related apps have been operating strictly in accordance with Indian law. We expect India to acknowledge the mutually beneficial nature of China-India Economic Trade Co-operation.

To discuss the impact of this ban on homegrown startups, Megha Vishwanath spoke to Mayank Bhangadia, CEO & co-founder of Roposo, Berges Malu, of Sharechat, Shivank Agarwal, co-founder of Mitron and Sumit Ghosh, co-founder & chief product officer at Chingari.
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