From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Data sovereignty issue
The Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended a ban on 54 Chinese mobile applications that pose a threat to the country’s security.
Legal basis of app ban
- The ban has been enforced under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- This act empowers to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource.
- This is done in the interest of –
- sovereignty and integrity of India
- defense of India, security of the State
- friendly relations with foreign states
- public order (or)
- for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense relating to above
Why MHA has put such a ban?
- Most of these apps were operating as clones or shadow apps of the apps that had earlier been banned by the government.
- There was stealing and secretly transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers that have locations outside India.
- These apps largely impact the psychosocial abilities of the users.
- The immediate decision has been taken in a specific strategic and national security
Implications of the ban
- India’s offensive: The move comes as an exercise of coercive diplomacy with China amid the heated exchange of words during the diplomatic boycott on the winter Olympics.
- Hurting china’s ambitions: The ban may affect one of China’s most ambitious goals, namely to become the digital superpower of the 21st century.
- Data nationalization: The ban is also based on the recognition that data streams and digital technology are a new currency of global power.
Issues with the ban
- Not only China: Data privacy and data security concerns are not limited only to Chinese apps.
- Harm already caused: The apps that were banned were very popular in India and the move to block them comes after these apps had already amassed hundreds of millions of users in India.
- Further dependency on China: The ban on Chinese mobile apps is a relatively soft target, as India remains reliant on Chinese products in several critical and strategically sensitive sectors.
- There is a strong case to revise the key legislations and sync them to change the digital environment.
- Data privacy and security remain to be major challenges emanating from the ongoing digital revolution.
- Thus, a data protection law is long overdue.
- India must speed up indigenization, research, and development, and frame up a regulatory architecture to claim data sovereignty.