Indian govt blocks more than 230 betting, loan apps linked to China: Report

Indian govt blocks more than 230 betting, loan apps linked to China: Report

The report said that desperate people were lured into taking loans and then the interest was jacked up to 3,000 per cent annually.

The Narendra Modi government blocked 232 apps with Chinese links. An official familiar with developments told the news agency PTI on Sunday (February 5) that these apps were blocked for gambling and unauthorised loan service. "The order to block 138 apps that were involved in betting, gambling and money laundering was issued last evening. Separately, an order to block 94 apps engaged in unauthorised loan service has also been issued. These apps were being operated from offshore entities, including Chinese. They were posing a threat to the economic stability of the country," the official said.

The names of these apps have not been revealed yet.

Earlier, the Union home ministry of India recommended the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY), and the latter initiated the process as per communication. The decision was taken after confirming that these apps attracted Section-69 of the IT Act as they contained material which was prejudicial to the country's integrity and sovereignty, news agency ANI reported earlier on Sunday.

The action behind the decision was based on multiple complaints of extortion and harassment of common people who had availed loans of small amounts through the mobile apps. These apps were the brainchild of Chinese nationals who hired Indians and made them directors in operations.

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The report said that desperate people were lured into taking loans and then the interest was jacked up to 3,000 per cent annually. When debtors were unable to pay the interest, let alone the principal amount, people representing these apps started harassing them. The representatives started sending them (debtors) lewd messages and threatened to release their morphed photos and shaming by sending them to their contacts.

The matter came to light after reports of suicides in some states, particularly Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The state governments of Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh as well as central intelligence agencies asked the Union home ministry to take action against these apps, the ANI report said citing sources. Based on these inputs, the ministry started analysing 28 Chinese loan lending apps six months back. But, it found out that 94 apps were available on e-stores and others were working through third-party links.

Many apps were not available for download on smartphones. However, sources told ANI the betting apps and games were being downloaded through independent links or websites.

Earlier, India's information and broadcasting ministry issued an advisory which stated that since betting and gambling was illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms, as well as their surrogates, were also illegal under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021.

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