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India Blocks Over 230 Gambling and Loan Apps with Ties to China

On Sunday, India’s state-owned public broadcaster said that the country was taking steps to remove 232 applications, some of which have ties to China, that provide betting and lending services in the South Asian market.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued an urgent order to prohibit 138 betting and gambling applications and another 94 that offered illicit lending services, the broadcaster said, in an effort to preserve the country’s reputation.

Prasar Bharti said that the Ministry of Home Affairs had requested the change. There were worries that the applications may be used for spying or propaganda, and they were designed to trick clients into taking on large loans without fully understanding the conditions.

On Sunday, the government took the latest in a series of measures intended to protect residents from the dangers posed by so-called “loan shark” applications and other similar businesses.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of India implemented strict regulations for digital lending companies, with the recommendation that these companies provide users greater information and agency.

The new regulations state that creditors must get their clients’ permission before raising their credit limits and must be transparent about the interest rate they charge on loans. It is also required that digital lending applications get consumers’ express permission before collecting any data, and that all data requests be “need-based.”

In recent years, India has blacklisted more than 300 applications that have connections to China in an effort to preserve the country’s independence and sovereignty. At the beginning of 2018, New Delhi banned dozens of applications with ties to China, including Tencent’s Xriver, Garena’s Free Fire, NetEase’s Onmyoji Arena and Astracraft, and many more. Amid rising geopolitical tensions between the two nations, the Indian government banned dozens of applications in the middle of 2020, including ByteDance’s TikTok, Xiaomi’s Community and Video Call apps, and Alibaba Group’s UC Browser and UC News.

New Delhi has never made any statements on apps from specific countries.

Federal Communications Commission senior Republican Brendan Carr, on the other hand, hailed India’s barring of TikTok and other applications last month, saying that the government established a “extremely significant precedent” by banning the ByteDance app.

TikTok, Carr said, “operates as a sophisticated monitoring tool,” and he concluded that banning the social app was the “logical next step in our efforts to safeguard communication network.” Concerned that China may exploit TikTok data for “blackmail, espionage, foreign influence operations, and monitoring,” Carr expressed his concern that the company could share user data with the Chinese government.