Today, we heard the news item through TV, newspapers and other media that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India invoking it’s power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of emergent threats has decided to block 118 mobile apps( list discussed later) since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order. The press release is reproduced below from their web site:
https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1650669 posted on 02 September 2020 at 5.26 PM by PIB Delhi.
The list enclosed as an appendix is reproduced below:
Just for academic interest, I reproduced the list for recollection purposes.
Let us discuss the matter.
The communique further added that due to receipt of several complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on
Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user’s data in an unauthorized manner to servers located outside India action was initiated.
The above acts needed immediate action in its view and hence the urgent action that resulted in the suspension of apps.
In my earlier article dated 2nd July 2020 in taxguru.in, I have quoted detailed information from a legal angle and emphasized the importance of huge investments by Chinese companies to gain a foothold in India particularly in view of huge youngsters who are the current as well as the future customers for these high-tech apps.
What future foretells?
At the outermost, the argument is approved by everyone that the last ban opened the door for Indian apps to venture in with better substitutes who are performing better than the older ones from China.
Unfortunately, previously, we did not invest in the imagination of our startups which have to struggle with little support from the ecosystem in India which did not have the flavor of new innovations with immediate results.
But the young entrepreneurs belying the older generations have outperformed the expectations of the nation and a large number of them with the best valuations with the shortest time, have attracted large sums of investments from investors from around the globe who want opportunities to place their funds with huge expectations.
Let me explain in simple terms.
Live mint dated 26th June 2020 informed us of the following information:
News item reproduced from the above news item.
“New Delhi/Bengaluru: Online learning startup Byju’s (Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd) has raised a fresh round of funding from Bond, a global technology investment firm co-founded by Mary Meeker, at a valuation of $10.5 billion.
The funding amount was not disclosed.
The latest funding comes after Tiger Global had invested $200 million in Byju’s in January, valuing the ed-tech platform than at around $8 billion.
The new funding makes Byju’s second most valued startup in India, overtaking hospitality startup Oyo, which was last valued at $10 billion.
Paytm was valued at $16 billion late last year when it raised its $1 billion Series Ground.
The fresh fundraise from Bond comes at a time when the edtech startup has been stepping-up hiring. Mint reported on Thursday that Byju’s is set to hire around 4,000 employees in the next six months as demand for its online courses skyrocketed since the lockdown in March.”
This happening in India with the human, financial, social or cultural resources combined with the brilliant brain of the youngster Mr. Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO has attracted the investing from high net worth investors around the globe.
This crisis has brought online learning to the forefront and has helped parents, teachers, and students alike to experience and understand the value of it, Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO said.
Let us also quote his words for inspiration.
“We have the opportunity to positively influence how teachers teach, students learn, and the school’s function. The ‘Classrooms of Tomorrow’ will have technology at the core, empowering students to cross over from passive to active learning. The result will be a combination of the best of both online and offline educational offerings.”
Now let us concentrate on the new startups from India.
Economic Times, dated 6th August 2020, has the following information.
News item runs as under:
Young developers from places such as Solapur in Maharashtra and Gir Somnath village in Gujarat have launched Indian alternatives to consumer-centric Chinese utility apps.
These apps — such as Kaagaz Scanner, Bharat Scanner, Share India, ShareKaro — focus on categories like file-sharing and management, photo-scanning, and phone cache cleaning, among other applications.
Whenever banning any apps comes in a democratic nation like us, the intelligentsia starts questioning the powers of the central government.
Let me clarify the legal position as under:
Legal position of the central government Information Technology Act 2000, section 69A reads as under:
“69A. Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource.–(1) Where the Central Government or any of its officers specially authorized by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-section
(2), for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored, or hosted in any computer resource.
(2) The procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking for access by the public may be carried out shall be such as may be prescribed.
(3) The intermediary who fails to comply with the direction issued under sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and also be liable to fine.”
Let me enlighten with simple language for a clearer understanding:
When I wrote my earlier article at the time of the ban of 59 mobile apps, the picture was not clear whether the ban would affect the intelligent working of minds of our youth, middle-aged, or seniors who were accustomed to the usage of those apps. But as explained in detail, whenever the national sovereignty issues are involved, the authorities are required to act and protect national interests. But this time, coupled with the national interest, the capacity of Indian youth from the startups have raised the bar and millions of downloads of their apps have bound the hands of the government to help them. At least allow them to grow without any interaction from hostile countries. It has been made clear this time by many startups they will outshine earlier experience by new technical excellence.
I have quoted many startups from recognized newspapers with sufficient information to emphasize my arguments.
Happier days are yet to come to the nation from these bubbling and energetic youth of our nation. Who knows this action will further spur more good results?
Disclaimer: I have given my views on many news items from the government which are totally my views. Neither the views represent taxguru.in nor various government departments. This is not legal advice. Anyone can easily refer to original legal references for guidance.