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Tech companies respond to alleged list of banned apps for Indian Army personnel
The order has been issued based on the inputs from intelligence agencies.
In a rather surprising development, the Indian government has now asked the nation's armed troops to remove several apps from their smartphones.
As such, the Ministry of Defense has issued an order asking officers and all security personnel to uninstall over 42 Chinese apps as they have been deemed as 'spyware'. However, the order has been issued based on the inputs from intelligence agencies.
According to reports, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in a November 24 advisory had already asked troops to delete apps like WeChat, Weibo, UC Browser and UC News from their smartphones or reformat their devices altogether.
Among the list of 'banned apps' also includes Truecaller. However, the company has reacted to such measures and has denied any foul play on its part. The company has further issued a statement saying it is not malware and will investigate why it has been added to the list.
Xiaomi's spokesperson has also stated, "At Xiaomi, we take security and privacy very seriously. Our global e-commerce platforms and user data for all international users is located on Amazon AWS data centers in California and Singapore." "We are currently investigating the advisory and would like to assure Mi Fans that we are fully committed to storing and transferring our users' data securely at all times."
Responding to the media reports, UC Web has also issued a statement saying, "Recent media reports regarding Indian troops uninstalling multiple apps have left us aggrieved and hurt. At UCWeb we take security and privacy practices very seriously and work hard to comply with local regulations of each region we operate in, including India. We pride ourselves on having a long-term commitment to India and our millions of Indian users. UC Browser and UC News are neither spyware nor malicious ware as alleged in the reports."
Meanwhile, a copy of the order has been obtained by indianexpress.com and it reads, "As per reliable inputs, a number of Android/IOS apps developed by Chinese developers or having Chinese links are reportedly either spyware or other malicious ware. Use of these apps by our force personnel can be detrimental to data security having implications on the force and national security."
It further reads, "Therefore it is requested that all officers and men under your command may be advised to not use these apps in the office or on personal mobile phones. If some of them are already using any of these apps then they should be asked to immediately uninstall the app and format their cellphones for strict compliance. You are requested to issue comprehensive guidelines on this matter."
The second page of the notice mentions all the 42 apps. The list includes, Weibo, WeChat, SHAREit, Truecaller, UC News, UC Browser, BeautyPlus, NewsDog, VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, Parallel Space, APUS Browser, Perfect Corp, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), CM Browser, Mi Community, DU recorder, Vault-Hide, YouCam Makeup, Mi Store, CacheClear DU apps studio, DU Battery Saver, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, 360 Security, DU Browser, Clean Master - Cheetah Mobile, Baidu Translate, Baidu Map, Wonder Camera, ES File Explorer, Photo Wonder, QQ International, QQ Music, QQ Mail, QQ Player, QQ NewsFeed, WeSync, QQ Security Centre, SelfieCity, Mail Master, Mi Video call-Xiaomi, and QQ Launcher.