Citing cybersecurity concerns, India blocked Internet access to 59 apps originating in China, including TikTok, WeChat and other entertainment and messaging applications, the government said Monday.
The apps on iOs and Android platforms are suspected of stealing data and violating privacy of Indian users, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information said in a statement. The apps “are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, [the] defense of India and the security of state and public order,” the ministry said.
TikTok, owned by ByteDance, pairs music with short videos. The app is popular with Indian users, who have downloaded 611 million TikTok installations, or about 30 percent of the 2 billion total worldwide, according to marketing website Sensor Tower.
The announcement spurred a stream of memes on Twitter under the hashtag #tiktokbanindia.
Other banned Chinese applications included music streaming, news, browser, chat and photo apps and games produced by Chinese companies including Baidu and Alibaba.
The move comes after disputed Himalayan border tensions between China and India escalated after a confrontation that killed 20 Indian soldiers.
The ban was hailed by tech observers as an opportunity for Indian app developers, but still disruptive.
“Terrible news for influencers who invested years of effort into building a following on TikTok and turned it into their careers/livelihood,” tweeted New Deli-based Sruthijith KK, an editor for the Economic Times. “Also for Indian employees at these companies.”