Recently a trend has been unleashed by users in countries like India to uninstall Chinese apps from their devices. Many in millions even down-rated apps like TikTok in Google play store and iOS App store to show their anger against the platform. While this incident came to light after the clash of YouTube creators vs TikTok creators, now users are observing many Chinese based applications with suspicions and uninstalling them. What sparked this behavior in the mind of the users? what are the reasons many other users are joining in this process nationwide. Lets find out.

Data.The Oil of 21st century.

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Data is the new oil of the century. It is said,”He who owns Data, owns the world”. Hence, the race to obtain data is on between many companies including giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc. Using the data collected from users to improve their service, provide better product and be ahead of the competition. But this data mining competition has shed light to something more dark. Many reports have thrown light on how this data mining has led to changing opinions, targeting communities, even led to manipulations of elections.

In this race of data, new platforms and apps from China have now started to penetrate in order to do the same, many reports from multiple agencies said so. Most of these apps have also joined the top downloaded lists in various Software stores due to their free nature.

Have you ever checked your phone? you might be surprised to find some pre-installed.

The smartphone market have many players competing right now from budget to premium category. While the premium category is less crowded with companies like Apple, Samsung, Oneplus etc, it is the budget and the mid range category where the main action is. Around 80% of the people who own smartphones from this market, there is a vast opportunity for something, companies want. That is Data. It is why you would see most Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, Huawei etc competing neck to neck. people who buy phones in this range don’t care about premium features apart from camera or processor, hence they don’t differenciate between companies if consumers are satisfied with what they get.

But what they should be concerned with are something known as Bloatware that comes pre-installed in these devices. Bloatware is a collection of software your device has pre-installed even if you didn’t asked for it. Applications like Tiktok, UC Browser, Helo, Shareit, vigo video, Beauty plus, NewsDog, VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, Parallel Space, APUS Browser, Perfect Corp, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), CM Browser, Mi Community, DU recorder, Vault-Hide, YouCam Makeup, Mi Store, CacheClear DU apps studio, DU Battery Saver, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, 360 Security, DU Browser, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile, Baidu Translate, Baidu Map, Wonder Camera, ES File Explorer etc are some of the examples. Now, As if Bloatware’s were not enough, consumers also encounter Ads everywhere inside the device. Homepage, installation page, notification bar or even the lock screen etc, you name it and you will find advertisements hidden over there.

Whats wrong with these apps and services.

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Lets say, you own a house. Then you customize your house with many things like a TV, Sound system, Computer, Lights, Fans and AC’s etc. now what if, all of a sudden, your TV starts recording your pattern of watching serials, your computer starts monitoring what keys you press, what Data you store, your Sound system starts recording your conversations. All of this happening without your permission. Will this be acceptable to you?

No right. It is the same thing happening to you through your smartphone without your knowledge. Scary isn’t it? But it is true, if you want to cross check open up your settings and check the permissions these applications ask for. You might be stunned after seeing it. These applications ask for excessive permissions in order to do what they want in your device, which might not be the reason for what you installed them for. These Chinese applications even know where you have been to and track you every second. Some have unlimited access to your camera, while some have unrestricted access to your microphone. Some can access your contact list, while some can access your banking/credit/debit card details from right under your nose.

What do they do with this data?

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Its quite simple. When there is such large amount of data at bay, there are many willing to buy them. data collected from you crucial or not, is sold to the unknown buyers who then use it for their own benefit. These buyers can be marketers, can be corporate giants, can even be people or organisations who then use the data to harm people.

What should we do?

Many Governments around the world Including Indian government have warned their citizens about such apps and appealed to uninstall them from their devices. Even Indian Agencies like Research analysis Wing, NTRO, and the Home ministry itself has released notifications regarding the same. Government even warned the army and paramilitary units to stay away from them.

Based on what the government has said, and the trend that is going on in India right now, it can be considered that Uninstalling these apps might be the best way to stay safe. Users should also be cautious about what they install and where they install applications from. It is recommended to use official Application stores to install apps as they are verified and checked for such malicious behavior.

So i hope you might have understood whats going on and whats at cost. All i would say is, Choose wisely. stay safe and away from such apps if you find one. Until next time.


By Siddhant Pathak

Cyber security architect, 7+ years experience in cyber security industry, Tech savy, Nature lover, Bullet 350 rider

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