Recently an advisory on video conferencing app Zoom was issued, wherein the government warned against popular Chinese apps including TikTok, Helo, SHAREit and Kwai for potential breach of data.
A senior government official said that they want to be particularly cautious about data that may be getting stored in China’s servers. So the govt. is monitoring some popular Chinese apps like TikTok and Helo.
Last Thursday, the ministry of home affairs warned that the Zoom app was unsafe. Zoom, an American application that gained traction after India went into a lockdown has been used by many companies to facilitate work from home during this period.
The main issue with Zoom is that it routes some calls through Chinese servers, a fact that the company itself admits as a breach. Other countries like Germany, Taiwan and Singapore have imposed a ban on the application.
The Zoom CEO said in a blog “In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly starting in China, where the outbreak began. In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect,”… “We have since corrected this, and would like to use this blog post to explain how our system typically works, where our misstep occurred, and how we will prevent these kinds of problems in the future.”
Most countries have implemented policies that direct that data is only stored in servers that are physically present in their own country. That way it cannot be accessed from the outside world. However, till the time these regulations become finalised and implemented chances of data misuse remain high.
“Chinese apps are very popular in India. They also command the lion’s share of the smartphone market and it is no secret that we have an uneasy relation with them. So we need to be careful,” said a govt. official. “Data is of the essence and we cannot afford slip-ups.”
Indian agencies have pointed Chinese apps as suspicious earlier as well. In 2017, there were 42 mobile applications, including WeChat, UC NEWS and UC browser, SHAREit, Truecaller that were considered as spyware or malware. And back in 2016, the government had also asked people to not use Chinese origin apps and refrain from using smartphones made in China entirely.