On June 30, 2020, the Indian government announced that it is taking steps to block up to 59 apps developed by or in cooperation with Chinese companies. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in a press release that these apps were not only harmful to the country's integrity, but threatened national security and public safety. He specifically claimed that social media applications have secretly shared user data with the Chinese government and intelligence community, and as such, can not be trusted. Apps that can no longer be used inside India include Club Factory and TikTok, which each have over 100 million users in India.
Sino-Indian relations have become increasing hostile in the wake of a border clash in the Himalayas that resulted in the deaths of both Chinese and Indian soldiers, and dozens of injuries. India's action is a clear response to what New Delhi sees as unrestrained Chinese aggression. The geoeconomic decision will wreak noticeable havoc on the People's Republic of China's technology industry, with the social media giant TikTok suffering the most.
Both the Chinese government and Chinese tech companies have long claimed that user data is completely confidential and protected under law. As one central government official claimed in a press conference, "even if the government wanted it, we couldn't access it." Despite repeated claims to the contrary, however, user data is not confidential or protected.
Chinese law requires any company within China to assist the security state in achieving government objectives. In 2014, China instituted the Counter-Espionage Law, which states, "when the state security organ investigates and understands the situation of espionage and collects relevant evidence, the relevant organizations and individuals shall provide it truthfully and may not refuse." The 2017 National Intelligence Law goes further, requiring that, "any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law."
The United States of America has already taken action to target Beijing's abuse of user data. Last year, the Department of Defense ordered that TikTok be deleted from government phones. They also highly recommended that government employees delete the application from personal devices. Yesterday, Chinese tech conglomerates Huawei and ZTE were designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as, "national security threats."' This means that the United States government can not purchase, repair, maintain, or support any equipment from the two state-support companies.