New Delhi: In a move that may lead to legal challenges and further acrimony between India and China in the digital space, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has issued fresh notices to TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps to impose a permanent ban on these apps in India.

“The government is not satisfied with the response/explanation given by these companies. Hence, the ban for these 59 apps is permanent now," a person aware of the development said.

The government has permanently banned 59 Chinese apps, and these are believed to include top ones such as ByteDance’s TikTok, Baidu, WeChat, Alibaba’s UC Browser, shopping app Club Factory, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), and BIGO Live.

This does not bode well for the other apps which were banned over the course of 2020 — over 200 by the end of the year. Some, such as the hugely popular smartphone game PUBG Mobile had attempted to remedy the situation by launching a new, India-only version, PUBG Mobile India which was announced in November, after hiring new staff in India. However, later responses to RTIs showed that MeitY had given no permission to the relaunch.

With this latest development, it looks unlikely that the game will be making a comeback in India very soon.

The ministry’s June order stated that the apps were “prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. The apps were banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

Thereafter, the government gave these companies an opportunity to explain their case regarding compliance to privacy and security requirements, before imposing a permanent ban.