India blocks more than 230 betting, loan apps linked to China: Report
- In Reports
- 06:23 PM, Feb 07, 2023
- Myind Staff
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) blocked 138 betting and 94 loan apps with China links for their alleged involvement in money laundering, and posing threat to India's financial security, sources said on Sunday.
The crackdown on these platforms began after the government received an alert from a nodal officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The sources said MeitY issued blocking orders against these apps on an "urgent and emergency" basis. They, however, did not disclose the names of the apps that were being blocked.
"The order to block 138 apps that were involved in betting, gambling and money laundering was issued last evening. Separately, an order to block 94 apps engaged in unauthorised loan service has also been issued. These apps were being operated from offshore entities, including Chinese. They were posing a threat to the economic stability of the country," the official said.
The apps were banned by the Central government exercising its power under section 69 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. This power enables govt agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any digital information in special circumstances. “These 138 betting or gambling apps and 94 loan apps were engaging in money laundering, and were a threat to the financial security of our nation,” said a source close to the ministry. The apps are being operated from offshore entities, including Chinese ones.
The decision was taken when it was assessed that these apps are covered under Section 69 of the IT Act, because they include material that is damaging to India’s sovereignty and integrity. The measure is being orchestrated in response to numerous complaints of extortion and harassment against users of the mobile apps operated by those businesses and individuals who took out small loans. Reports claim that the developers of these apps are Chinese nationals who recruited Indians and made them operational directors. People who are in a dire financial situation are compelled to take out loans only to discover that the interest rates grow by as much as 3,000% annually.
Those who promote these applications pressurized the borrowers when they are unable to pay the interest. They threaten to send unpleasant messages to their connections, revealing their doctored images and embarrassing them in public. A number of these cases have been exposed in other states, such as Telangana and Odisha.
The matter came to light after reports of suicides in some states, particularly Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The state governments of Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh as well as central intelligence agencies asked the Union home ministry to take action against these apps, the ANI report said citing sources. Based on these inputs, the ministry started analysing 28 Chinese loan lending apps six months back. But, it found out that 94 apps were available on e-stores and others were working through third-party links.
This comes after the government had earlier imposed a ban on more than 250 Chinese apps, citing the fact that they were "prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, and public order." The apps which were banned earlier included TikTok, Xender, PUBG Mobile,Shein, Camscanner, Garena Free Fire and others.
Image source: OpIndia