Indian Government to ban 138 betting and 94 loan apps with Chinese Ties

The government is taking action to ban and block 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps with ties to China on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis, according to a News18 report.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology received instructions from the Union Home Ministry to block 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps with Chinese links.

The Union Home Ministry had been analyzing these apps for the past six months and found that they posed a security risk to Indian citizens, as well as being potential tools for espionage and propaganda. These apps were also deemed to exhibit predatory behavior, trapping individuals in debt.

Government to Ban 138 Betting and 94 Loan Apps with Chinese Ties

Investigations revealed that server-side security breaches in these apps could potentially be used for mass surveillance, as the apps have access to critical data of Indians. The Union Home Ministry was prompted to take action by states like Telangana, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as central intelligence agencies. This issue gained attention after a series of suicides in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by individuals who had taken loans from these apps or lost money through betting apps.

Most of these apps were created by Chinese nationals who hired Indians and made them directors in the company. The apps enticed individuals with loans and then raised the interest rates by up to 3,000% per year. When debtors were unable to repay the loans, representatives of the apps engaged in harassing behavior, including sending threatening messages, and even threatening to release morphed photos.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has taken action to block these apps based on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to an official communication, the action was taken after it was confirmed that the apps violate Section 69 of the IT Act, as they contain “material that is prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India.”

Although some of the apps are no longer available for download on smartphones, they can still be accessed through independent links or websites, and some accept cryptocurrency as payment. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory stating that betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of India and advertisements for these activities are also illegal under the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, and IT Rules, 2021.

The ministry has advised online intermediaries not to target such ads at the Indian audience, as betting and gambling pose significant financial and socio-economic risks, especially to youth and children. The promotion of betting and gambling, whether offline or online, is not in the public interest, the ministry said.