PUBG Mobile and 117 other Programs with links to China were Prohibited on Wednesday from the government under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, and by using the provisions of Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Growing of Access of Information from Public) Rules 2009.
In its press release, the authorities said that the apps were”prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity” of the nation, and have the probability of leaking user data. However, legal experts are questioning how in which the government is using its autonomous powers to ban popular apps in the country.
The most recent ban is next in a series of bans. The government already banned 106″Chinese” programs in the nation at a little over two weeks, with two comparable activities in June and July.
The very first decision was shot in late June, although its follow up was arranged almost a month later, near the end of July.
In all three cases so far, the government has utilized Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which basically grants the ability to block public access of any data readily available online. However, Technology Lawyer and Creator of legal advocacy team Slfc.in Mishi Choudhary said the department was a mere stopgap measure.
“Whether 59 programs are prohibited or 118, this underscores how technology and geopolitical matters are becoming two strands of a braid,” she advised Gadgets 360.
Apar Gupta, Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a digital rights firm, agreed with Choudhary and said that the use of the blocking power to prohibit apps one after another was leading to a situation where the originally planned purpose for part 69A, that was to block sites, is being over-utilized. He also noted that website blocking ought to be seen as a provision of last resort instead of first recourse.
Need to get a stringent data protection law
The statement published by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) pertaining to the brand new ban highlighted that it decided to block those apps after receiving reports of the apps”stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data” to servers located outside the nation.
But, Gupta reported that the authorities had not provided any evidence to a level where you’d get any reasonable pieces of information. He also said that the trend of announcing bans through press releases didn’t involve any legal process.
“This entire process has been done under a press launch,” he said. “A media release isn’t a legal order under the Information Technology Act.”
Since the ban is mostly projected as a move to protect citizens’ data, the need of a stringent data protection law has also been observed by specialists. “We must make sure that people are protected and they are not reduced to pawns in the information game,” Choudhury said.
All three programs ban that came into force in the country in over the last two weeks are believed to be all over the apps that have a relationship with China. However, the government has not explicitly mentioned the word”China” or”Chinese” in some of its statements.
“The omission of the word China in those press releases alone is somewhat of a strange omission,” said Gupta of IFF. He added that the accession of this word China did assist users who have already downloaded these programs to actually participate and take care of by uninstalling them.
“I think civic participation and trust in all these decisions, which are being accepted by the government is quite vital for the success of all these state objectives of ensuring national security and preventing theft of information of Indian customers,” he said.