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India bans TikTok, WeChat, and dozens of other Chinese apps (techcrunch.com)
1483 points by samdung 11 days ago | hide | past | web | 795 comments | favorite

India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box, there is no guarantee that China isn’t conducting misinformation campaigns via the platform.

At the very least, the government should audit the algos and make sure China can’t arbitrarily alter ranking results.

Are YouTube algorithms open? I don't really see a difference here. Nation state vs. private corporation is different on paper, but I don't see why. They're both going to react to material stimuli to increase their standings.

Nation states have military, intelligence, diplomacy and police corps. They reserve the power to stop, detain, arrest, jail, try, sentence, imprison, and kill. That’s why how we go about those things is a Big Deal, and why we have so many rules about who can go about it, how, under what circumstances, what the laws are that they’re enforcing, what the processes and procedures are for enforcement and how guilt is determined.

Corporations as a rule, and there have been exceptions, but as a rule have none of those powers. Theoretically the worst crimes they’re going to commit are fraudulent in nature and crimes of negligence. They’re not just a separate org chart ultimately serving as a private arm of the State with its own private rules that it self-enforces; they’re different beasts entirely.

The problem with PRC-based corporations is that they muddy the waters entirely between what is private and public. As far as the PRC is concerned, all private life is subject to the State and should serve the interests of the State. Google and Facebook and your favorite café or tea house can and do have interests that lie entirely outside of the State and are free to pursue them. That is the difference between a free society and an authoritarian State.

I think you forget a detail. Nation state, or any state, are sovereign.

If the national community agrees on something, it's all that matter. We don't have to abide by other countries standards on everything especially if we dont like it.

Im thinking as a French I had to fight a lot with free speech absolutists abroad, while at home we're quite okay with selective censorship... it sounds scary to an American sometimes, but hell we dont care :D

The idea that restrictions in human liberty are subject to when "a national community agrees on something" is laughable at best and evil at worst.

> laughable at best and evil at worst.

Forgive me for not just taking your word for it. Citation needed.

Even your freedom of speech is subject to certain restrictions in the US – you can't make violent verbal threats to people, to name one example.

The problem with Law is that laymen opinions seem to matter even less than in other domains.

Does that also pertain to drug regulations? Because the US certainly restricts a whole hell of a lot of people based on that.

But what is human liberty?

The problem here (as I see it) is that the definition of liberty is very subjective, and yet people make arguments like yours based on the premise that their personal definition of liberty is an objective truth.

But who draws the "human liberty" line? Where and how does "human liberty" and "individual liberty" intersect? Is the Non Aggression Principle the doctrine on this? Or something more progressive that helps ensure minority rights? Some other option entirely?

Liberty and humanism are topics built on millennia of context and nuance. Blanket statements like yours, while passionate, risk being so reductionist that they distract from the important substance of the conversation.

> Im thinking as a French I had to fight a lot with free speech absolutists abroad, while at home we're quite okay with selective censorship... it sounds scary to an American sometimes, but hell we dont care :D

I'm not surprised you're being downvoted as I've tried to make this point with American friends before and gotten the same reaction 10/10 times.

To use a very topical example: in other jurisdictions outside of the US, racism is a crime, and speaking out in favor of it or discriminating against someone verbally is not protected by free speech.

In fact, jurisdictions outside of the US often do not even have a definition for the "right to free speech" – it's obvious that you can say whatever you want.

It just so happens that by saying some of those things you may be doing something illegal, not unlike how threatening someone isn't a protected action in the US. So it's not so much a matter of censorship, but one of limits to rights. Every right has certain limitations, and free speech isn't absolute, be it in America or elsewhere.

And in those other jurisdictions you don't have free speech. A woman in Austria was convicted of blasphemy for a factual statement, because it hurts the feelings of people following that religion. Apparently our European human rights that say they protect free speech don't protect free speech.

Free speech as a strongly held value is incredible, because it avoids situations like the above (Austria). It also avoids situations where the police pay you a visit to check your thinking over a tweet (UK). It also avoids the situation where a teenager gets arrested for quoting rap lyrics on Instagram (UK). It also avoids situations where you can be fined for insulting the president by holding up a sign that says "get lost, you prat" (France). It also avoids situations where the government can refuse to allow (not ban, simply do nothing) the publishing of video games, movies, and books in the country (Australia and New Zealand).

Note that in the French case the ECHR actually got their act together and found the French law to be in violation of free speech. If that situation had happened in the US then there wouldn't have been a fine in the first place, because the right to free speech is that important.

People accept these kinds of things, because they don't think they'll ever be in the wrong. However, when it happens to them there's no real recourse.

Edit: keep in mind that that are the countries that are considered to be doing well.

If free speech doesn't protect a person's right to say negative, bad, or even wrong things, it's not free speech. Even the strictest authoritarian regimes don't restrict people from saying approved or positive things--that simply wouldn't make sense unless their goal is to have zero speech whatsoever.

> I've tried to make this point

"Point" in your comment means the muzzle of a gun, not a logical argument.

Oh. But can I think about something illegal ? Can I write something illegal down on paper ? Say something illegal quietly ? Can I say something illegal loudly in the middle of the forest ? Saying something is just a way to make your thoughts known by others. Thought police, and thought crime are just a tear drop away, it seems.

@xwolfi Agree with you as long as majority of national community agree, it is ok. This is how democracy works the minority are suppressed one or the other way and things go the way majority wants. Indeed even on HN if a comment is down-voted it's greyed out so that people cannot read those minority views (obviously if its a hate speech can be flagged, which is already done, but then its thin line and needs tremendous restraint and transparency).

This is another slippery slope and Covid-19 will increase censorship further. Indeed India by censorship legitimize the censorship regimes around the world (including China).

Been working with Internet since it's early years in 1991 and hope it remains free. But it seems less and less likely given every country wants to create it's own Internet, as it became important for being in power.

India allows internet/app companies from other countries. It's just banning chinese apps because it is now in conflict with China.

We can respect another nation’s sovereignty without respecting their authoritarianism. I very much believe we should be disrespecting the hell out of authoritarian States, much more than we do so now because authoritarianism doesn’t stop at the borders, it stops at the practical limit that a State can enforce its laws which is why when the NBA was quite literally kowtowing to the PRC, we had a problem with that.

PRC corporations have a history of behaving in a mistrustful manner, combined with their obligations to the PRC State which treats its citizens as subjects, and sometimes not even its citizens, but anybody of Chinese descent, PRC corporations absolutely should be singled out and treated with mistrust. Our corporations have the obligation to turn a profit for their shareholders and sometimes that even means entering into a contract with the government, but theirs also have the obligation to advance the interests of the State. Dual mandates, even when not initially at odds with each other, often eventually come into conflict with each other, and State-owned or controlled corporations often don’t even have the profit incentive but are instead subject to politics. See also: the American corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for examples of why they’re a bad idea, although their enterprises are domestic.

This is off topic but since you brought it up, we’re not the free speech absolutists that we believe we are. What we took issue with specifically was the idea of a central government regulating speech, assembly, the press and the establishment of churches. We still had established churches for quite some time, but they were governed by the States, not the United States. Let me quote you the First Amendment:

> Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Everything you really need to know is in the first five words. It’s a prohibition on Congress, not a grant of rights, and this would later come to be incorporated against the States as well such that their legislatures have the same restrictions. The reason this amendment exists at all was 1. To quell dissent from the Anti-Federalists which campaigned against the Constitution in the ratification conventions and 2. Because then and now, we’re a nation of dissenters. Many of the people that migrated from Europe to the United States were religious dissenters or penal colonists living in exile. I don’t know to what degree you studied the Huguenots in French history, but they made a few attempts to establish themselves, each time French politics seeking their resupply attempts after the initial landing, before receiving a land grant in what is now Brooklyn, and then was part of the New Netherlands.

As a french I completely disagree. These laws are harmful to everyone who dears to speak.

In France, censorship is a real problem for most intellectuals and individual citizens . Assa Traoré, the leading personality protesting against police violence has been repeatedly sued. Charlie Hebdo, the satiric newspaper that was attacked by terrorists who killed 12 people had been repeatedly sued. Eric Zemmour, a right-wing intellectual has also been condemned for speaking. Citizens who have placed a "Macronavirus" (concatenation of Macron, our president and Virus) sign in front of their house have spent a night at the local police station.

"Hate Speech" is a way too broad definition. And the censorship in France is getting bigger and bigger, notably since the highly-controversial Avia Law that forces Social Media platforms to censor "Hate Speech".

All these examples, have been made with non-evil governments. Our current president is a centrist and the last one was a leftist. Now, imagine what could happen when the far-right has to decide what "Hate Speech" is? I don't want to live that, and the Rassemblement National has been rising to dangerous levels.

We would be much better with constitutional and absolute free speech as in the US.

>Corporations as a rule, and there have been exceptions, but as a rule have none of those powers. Theoretically the worst crimes they’re going to commit are fraudulent in nature and crimes of negligence.

Not that clear cut. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_Wars

Gonna have to emphasize that bit where I said there are exceptions a bit louder then, but this isn’t one of them. That was an imperialist project prosecuted by United States Military under the direction of the United States civilian government.

I was thinking more about companies that have actually had militaries, the Dutch East India Company being a prime example.

Aren’t big corporations usually lobbying the US government? Under this perspective I cannot really trust them more than any government.

Well let me ask you then. What is the difference between companies lobbying for their own interests, often in competition with other corporate interests, and companies taking marching orders from the State?

I think there’s a difference, but if you don’t think so, why?

This is ridiculous nonsense.

You have a good point. But TikTok is much more risky, and as as such requires much more scrutiny given existing body of knowledge between how chinese social media / chat companies such as WeChat enforce government censorship and aid in propagating misinformation.

This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately. Nearly all sizable firms have a party secretary that is involved in board level decisions, and steps in when things get political. You can ponder who has the final say.

> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately

No, I get this, but here's the thing: YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of. There are material consequences if YouTube doesn't keep in line. What this means is that a status quo that pleases advertisers will be maintained.

It's every bit propaganda as dropping leaflets, but you can't point out a boogeyman pulling the strings.

These are not even remotely equivalent things.

Advertisers are not a homogeneous block. YouTube et al can afford to piss off some advertisers; if they're pissing off all advertisers, the material is probably extremely objectionable to most humans.

I challenge you to point out an example of content that has been banned from youtube because it offends advertisers, that you really think the banning of which is a significant issue. There's no shortage of material on YT hypercritical of Goldman "Vampire Squid" Sachs.

Whereas there is a long litany of material banned from Chinese networks for obvious political reasons. Furthermore, if you don't like YT's policy, you can use other video sharing sites or even gasp host your own videos. Try doing that in China and see how long it takes for men with guns to show up.

YouTube's algorithm suppresses LGBTQ content more than usual which is something that most people agree shouldn't be suppressed. At the same time, I don't think it's because advertisers want to suppress the content. I just think it's a bug with YouTube's algorithm.

> YouTube et al can afford to piss off some advertisers; if they're pissing off all advertisers, the material is probably extremely objectionable to most humans.

You don't have to have consensus from advertisers to ban something. If an advertiser of significant enough size, or a block doing similar, threatens, YouTube will listen.

> I challenge you to point out an example of content that has been banned from youtube because it offends advertisers, that you really think the banning of which is a significant issue.

You don't have to ban it, you just have to demonetize it and content creators will fall in line.

> Whereas there is a long litany of material banned from Chinese networks for obvious political reasons.

I really think you need to reckon with this. You speak a lot about hosting your own shit, but, as American hegemony crumbles, your consumption will meet road blocks.

All American companies move in lockstep. We see one company after another pull out of facebook advertising very quickly last week. They work together as a group with a consistent goal.

This week we saw one social media platform after another ban the same people. The North American cartel moves together as one, once again.

You can host your own videos but if you do expect to be banned by paypal and mastercard and visa. Because all north american companies are just different faces of the same underlying entity.

Chinese companies offer real competition to that. Chinese companies are very good for my political freedom.

While private corporations also have incentives and private individuals bring their own biases into play, there remain extremely important differences between the capabilities of corporations and states. State actors can effectuate arrests within their own territory, deploy military assets, make territorial claims, conduct assassinations, and generally use their information-gathering and influence to support significantly more violent goals.

Like, I get that the milquetoast world advertisers want to live in is some kind of lens that colors the views and opinions presented by their platforms. It's just that the worst that happens from being influenced by it is it that you live a more boring life and consume more product. That's not nearly as worrying as being influenced to hating racial minorities in an attempt to distract from the South China Sea or something.

> State actors can effectuate arrests within their own territory, deploy military assets, make territorial claims, conduct assassinations, and generally use their information-gathering and influence to support significantly more violent goals.

Coca cola sent death squads into South America.

> That's not nearly as worrying as being influenced to hating racial minorities in an attempt to distract from the South China Sea or something.

I don't know if you've noticed, but there are currently protests going on in America over racist injustice.

> It's just that the worst that happens from being influenced by it is it that you live a more boring life and consume more product

And how do you think this interacts with the above point?

The concern is the coordination between Chinese foreign affairs/security services and the commercial sector.

For US-based firms, that’s simply not the case.

Yes, YouTube needs to make sure Nike is happy. But Nike didn’t just kill two dozen Indian soldiers.

Certainly there’s privacy related concerns with US companies - as with Chinese companies. But nobody had accused the DoD of manipulating YouTube search rankings.

If the DoD wants to conduct a YouTube propaganda campaign, they can buy advertising like everybody else.

> The concern is the coordination between Chinese foreign affairs/security services and the commercial sector.

> For US-based firms, that’s simply not the case.

Disingenuous or naive?

I don't know, I still remember how, in a poll before the invasion of Iraq, a majority of Americans though that Saddam Hussein was connected to the 11S attacks.

> Yes, YouTube needs to make sure Nike is happy. But Nike didn’t just kill two dozen Indian soldiers.

Probably not the best company to choose given their history.

Technically: less the case.

Consider past agreements about/agency infiltrations to create backdoors and the like[0] or canary clauses[1] in licenses and why they exist.

Still better despite being only a partial mechanism for increasing balance between powers.

[0] https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/malware-microsoft.en.html

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_canary

>> This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

>> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately. Nearly all sizable firms have a party secretary that is involved in board level decisions, and steps in when things get political. You can ponder who has the final say.

> No, I get this, but here's the thing: YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of. There are material consequences if YouTube doesn't keep in line. What this means is that a status quo that pleases advertisers will be maintained.

You're basically saying: "YouTube has to please group X, TikTok has please group Y. Since they both have to 'please groups,' they're doing the same things!" That's a flawed comparison, because the the devil is in the details: the relevant differences between group X (YouTube advertisers) and Group Y (the Communist Party of China) get obscured when you're reasoning about such high level abstractions.

Here's one difference: the CCP is a totalitarian dictatorship that exerts direct control over Chinese corporations. Youtube, flawed as it is, is not that.

Either you compare the CCP to the US government or Tiktok to Facebook.


Why must every single posting on Hacker News that involves China be flooded with whataboutism? It's a recurring thing, not even subtle.

> Here's one difference: the CCP is a totalitarian dictatorship that exerts direct control over Chinese corporations.

Maybe we shouldn't have worked so hard to support building up their manufacturing base when we knew this all along.

Oh well, we just get to repeat the Dutch mistake of financing your enemy into having a robust manufacturing base until they gradually overtake global control.

YouTube and, more specifically, it's advertisers do everything that you're accusing China of

YouTube and its advertisers aren't countries, and aren't engaged in recent, deadly military skirmishes with India.

> YouTube and its advertisers aren't countries, and aren't engaged in recent, deadly military skirmishes with India.

It might help to read the parent posts I was replying to, but we're talking about the effects of black box algorithms.

YouTube does simply not send people to concentration camps and torture them for uploading "wrong" videos. They get demonetized. If you don't see the difference I am not sure how to convince you.

Here's the thing, all those corporations you suggest are pulling strings and controlling things do not have a nuclear arsenal or national state security operations. There are material consequences if you do not toe the Chinese party line. As in you can pay for that with your freedom or your life.

YouTube doesn’t have concentration camps.

You're not wrong - and I'm extremely distrustful of the "ends" that commercial interests optimize for - but to be honest I feel like the commercial interests are at least more transparent.

Unless or until they approach the scale of a nation-state (and to be fair, many do) it seems like commercial interests are at the very least clear (and arguably market-driven and subject to competition).

For a specific if arbitrary example: I don't think Facebook values privacy (or YouTube free speech) but that's a side effect of their primary objective. Maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but it sure feels more sinister when the app is purpose built for privacy-invasion or opinion-manipulation.

The difference is that in Canada, I’m Canadian, I can say practically anything I want about the government and nothing bad would happen to me. If I were to be crazy and slander Trudeau calling him a pedophile or something I’d be ostracized socially by many people but I wouldn’t end up in jail. If you really want to test equivalencies I challenge you to fly to Beijing and accuse Xi Jinping of that in public and that would be the last anyone would see of you. The police would probably plant drugs on you and put you in a hole.

And in Canada, corporations are not exactly actors which perform rigid functions outlined by the government.. the liberals, who are currently in power, don’t have party members sitting at the top of companies whose function is to literally oversee compliance to liberal propaganda.

China isn’t quite as bad as western media makes them out to be, I’d argue that in many ways they have been improving and loosening up, but it’s silly to pretend that YouTube is no different than TikTok or that Amazon is no different than Alibaba.

Currently, the advertisers seem to be pulling back from "evil" and have done so in the past.

So they actually have a good influence, redirecting marketing dollars for "marketing" ( since it looks good on the outside).

China doesn't care, they even block Winnie the Pooh.

> This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

Those people would be even more shocked by the extent to which this is true in the western world as well.

In China, all headlines are designed to propogate the SAME propoganda. In other parts of the world, all headlines are designed DIFFERENT propagandas.

“Look how many sauces we’ve got to choose from for McNuggets!”

Not even remotely true. The West has myriad choices to choose from in comparison. I don't think you understand how in sync the media is there. They'll literally run identical stories at the same time on every major network, and publish the same set of stories in their papers day after day.

Is it though? At least you can see different sides, different voices.

Different voices from the same narrow Overton Window.

Lets say it's December 2015 and I want to find out what ISIS has to say about it's activities.

It was nigh impossible to find unfiltered information from them.

And that is usually enough to placate Westerners. Even if, say, the "different sides" are just different heads of the same snake, which is often the case.

The only two political parties in the US, for instance, differ remarkably little in terms of foreign policy and labor rights. Headlines in major US media will virtually never indicate there is any significant room for debate here. The public is satisfied with the false dichotomy of "raise military budget by $100B" vs. "raise military budget by $200B".

All the voices are within the Overton window though.

We're that much better at it that the masses think there are different sides. At the top, it's all the same.

> The reality is that Chinese firms and government operates together intimately

In China, the government has more power than corporations. In the US, corporations have more power than the government.

Which FAANG has nukes?

I suppose spacex isn’t part of the fang nor do they have nukes but pretty sure they might just have the best aim :)

Google's trove of collected personal information comparably powerful as nukes, if released.

Who controls the military?

>This might be a shock to most people in the western world, but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda.

I still can't get over the lack of self-awareness in this post.

> but if you go on almost ANY news website in china, the headline news is dedicated to government propaganda

Well I have news for you... Most of the news about international politics you read in the west are propaganda as well- and it works so well you're about to hit the downvote button in disbelief.

Why should India ban a Chinese social media company and not an US social media company, it's a matter of national security? This claim is just xenophobic nonsense.

One is a private corporation in a relatively progressive and free country, the other is a company controlled by an authoritarian nation-state. There's clearly a difference...

> One is a private corporation in a relatively progressive and free country,

I think he is referring to Google.

Google is a public company, not that it should matter in this context.

Because one attacked and killed Indian Soldiers, and has a active border dispute with India.

Wikipedia notes: This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it

There's nothing xenophobic about the claim that PRC blocks a huge portion of the internet. I operate several websites that are blocked by CCP in PRC, despite having no relation to any policy priority of the CCP or law/edict in PRC.

China is a special case because they are among the very few number of countries in the world where the government openly controls the media and the private companies.

A U.S. company like Twitter even bans the U.S. president's posts on their platform, and so does Facebook. Something like that is impossible in China as whoever does that will instantly get shut down. Think about the implication of this. This means you have to assume that any Chinese tech company will have to comply when the government tells them to spread some propaganda through their media.

This is what has been called in a science fiction as "information warfare", and it can be even more catastrophic than a real war, but I don't think most people realize this because they've never seen one before. What's even scarier is that even as this is happening, nobody knows this is happening, which is worse than a war because, unlike a physical war where everything is visible, one country can "attack" another country without anyone else realizing, causing a huge damage to their economy.

Forget the economy. The damage to social infrastructure and trust is far more serious.

Groups violently turning on eachother, families splitting over political divides, lynchings... these matter a lot more than whether people have nice cars.

If India (or any other country for that matter) would be in an armed conflict with the US, they would probably also consider banning various US controlled services.

China is not in armed conflict with US , why does it ban every app that civilized world uses ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...


I asked about the algorithm thing--that's what I'm curious about. Where specifically does that belief end.

I'd guess that double-standards are inevitable and desired when there is an armed conflict between nations.

If Indian government sees no harm in US apps whilst banning Chinese apps, this is the definition of diplomatic pressure. Asymmetry is the tool used to apply this pressure.

Your point is valid - we have no way to know Facebook algorithms and it is a blackbox, but this isn't supposed to be a symmetric comparison for aforementioned reasons.

Biggest difference is motives, as long as we are making the assumption you mean private corporations that aren’t proxies for their respective government(s)

A private company will optimize profit, all things being equal. Sometimes this means it’s product/platform can be used to disseminate possibly dangerous information, but it also can be regulated in response.

Another government? Not so easy

Only way to really assert influence is through a much more narrow and limited scope like diplomacy, economic sanction, war, or otherwise influence the state/affairs of the country through target regulations like the ones mentioned in the article

> Sometimes this means it’s product/platform can be used to disseminate possibly dangerous information, but it also can be regulated in response.

I don't think this is true specifically in the case of America. Who are you going to get to actually grapple that beast of a multi national? Yeah, lots of people talk about it, but politics ultimately requires a degree of consensus.

When you have investors calling up their representatives saying they will donate to their opponent next election or they will move jobs out of the area, politicians are going to start falling off. Oh, these politicians are all probably invested in these companies to some degree, or maybe they rent apartments to their workers. There's also the gridlock issue that likely can't be resolved unless we start adding states, so legislation will be hard there.

Companies like alphabet and Facebook are the culmination of the last 40 years of politics in America.

Never intended for this to mean it was easy or anything. As you noted already it isn’t always. However this also admits it can be done as I mentioned too.

You can’t pass legislation that makes another government open itself up to transparency though. That’s the fundamental difference

> However this also admits it can be done as I mentioned too.

That wasn't the intention

It’s about allies versus active enemies. There are shootouts on a regular basis between India and China, and they’ve intensified recently.

> There are shootouts on a regular basis between India and China, and they’ve intensified recently.

There are no "shootouts". There are standoffs sometimes (think once a year if you want to define regularity) due to the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. It's usually a melee. Even the recent escalated incident wasn't a shootout. There are agreements between Indian and Chinese governments that prevent usage of firearms in standoffs like these.

I agree that "shootouts" is the wrong word, but "melee" doesn't quite capture the gruesomeness of human beings beating each other to death with spiked clubs.

Yes, I'm aware of the news. It still wasn't due to a "shootout".

> What’s happening along the Himalayan border is an unusual kind of warfare. As in the brawls last month, Chinese and Indian soldiers fought fiercely without firing a shot — at least that’s what officials on both sides contend. They say the soldiers followed their de facto border code not to use firearms and went at each other with fists, rocks and wooden clubs, some possibly studded with nails or wrapped in barbed wire.

From https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/asia/indian-china-b...

So it's just opportunism, then? Condemn the other; refuse reflection. Or am I misunderstanding you?

It's about harm and risk reduction. All other things held equal, you would expect your enemies to be doing more to undermine you than your allies would.

I can’t say what India’s motivation is for sure. Maybe there’s a credible threat in a way that Facebook isn’t. Maybe it’s just anti-Chinese fervor. But saying anything outside of India should be treated the same is not taking into account geo-politics and individual country’s behaviors.

Coordination with the US means jobs and economic opportunity for both sides. Coordination with China means gunfights and border tension.

It's pretty simple if you don't try to extrapolate everything to logical extrems. India and US is ally, India and China is rival. Full stop, it ends there. KISS

We live in interesting times, ripe for manipulation and propaganda, both if which China and Russia have spread in the EU during the last months. India's ban is completely warranted. The fact that they also have a border dispute with China only makes things worse. I'd rather they ban a few apps than escalation and war.

Using opportunity to actually perform a good thing for privacy (tiktok at least was found snooping all it can from users phones, not sure about the rest but given how chinese run things that would be expected).

No tear will be shed for those apps, regardless from which country they come from (I know this is very targeted due to recent tensions, but its still a step in the right direction re privacy)

Good point. But YouTube is not controlled by an authoritarian fascist-like government which has a world view in direct opposition to what you could refer handwaveingly as "western" and is currently pushing to become the dominant power in the world.

If you furthermore consider how bad the "western world" (mainly Britten and the East India Company) had treated it in the past, some aspects of the Chinese culture and the current Goverment direction western countries expecting any fair or reasonable treatment once china succeeded to become the worlds dominant power is kinda a sad joke.

This is a joke. The "western world" created PRISM and Five Eyes and has been meddling in elections in the third world for almost a century. Additionally, what do you define as the "western world", because by some measures it includes some actually fascist governments like e.g. Saudi Arabia.

A) Having democracy does not correlate with having transparency and freedom, this has been de facto proven.

B) If the "western world" is the bar, the bar is low.

Ah, people love to trivialize comparisons and disregard all context, especially intent.

By analogy you're basically equating tortute in order to prevent the detonation of a bomb to torture in order to detonate a bomb.

Yes, ethically all sides are compromised but as things stand they are by no means all the same.

Also, no one included SA as part of the West.

>By analogy you're basically equating tortute in order to prevent the detonation of a bomb to torture in order to detonate a bomb.

I really can not see how I am doing this. Care to illustrate?

>Also, no one included SA as part of the West.

Fair enough.

> refer handwaveingly as "western"

There is a reason why I used the word hadwaveingly.

>B) If the "western world" is the bar, the bar is low.

And yet China manages to fail this low bar stunningly. To the point that they are running actual concentration camps for Muslims. Something no Western government has done, and the last one to do finished paying reparations to the victims 4 years ago, 70 years after it happened.

Western governments literally have a history of slavery.

Right now, America is running actual concentration camps for African Americans.

Don’t think western governments are any better.

> The "western world" created PRISM and Five Eyes

What do you think PRISM and Five Eyes are? It is my experience that people who bring them up as huge evils have no idea what they are. They typically think that PRISM allows the NSA to read anybody's email (as opposed to being an ingestion system for data collected by the FBI) and that Five Eyes allows governments to indirectly spy on their own citizens, both of which are ridiculous ideas that are legally impossible.

They are electronic surveillance projects which have components that can be used by western governments to conduct blanket surveillance on their own and foreign citizens as illustrated by Wiki Leaks.

But they are white and Anglos so it is OK.

> has a world view in direct opposition to what you could refer handwaveingly as "western"

I don't think this is even hand-wavingly a thing. If it is then it doesn't bode well because "we" don't exactly have a great track record of treating people on the other side of the world well.

YouTube isn't controlled by an authoritarian fascist-like government - it is run by the fascist-lite corporate oligarchy which runs the US. The US may not be as bad as china in some ways but that doesn't absolve them from responsibility.

Trying to draw a parallel between Google and a country that literally tortures and murders its citizens for "unsanctioned beliefs" is disingenuous. Cut the bullshit.

Ignorance of US history of endless human rights abuses (including torture) both domestic and foreign by the US is not an excuse for being condescending and overly confident on an internet forum.

Maybe, but on the surface a lot of moralic values seem to somewhat align.

Also I wouldn't say that YouToube is controlled by an " fascist-lite corporate oligarchy". It something different then fascism, maybe even worse.

It's also off topic in that TikTok being banned doesn't mean YoutToube is better or shouldn't be banned. India just didn't have to fear a militaristic invasion of the US corporate oligarchy...

I'm from a western country and I know for a fact that homicide rate in US is 6 times worse than China

(6/100,000 in US VS <1/100,000 in China)

Maybe US has some problems on its own...

Plus, the average Chinese minority does not fear being shot by the police.

Even if the quality of these data sources were comparable it still wouldn't be relevant to this conversation. Career criminals killing eachother in major cities has nothing to do with foreign surveillance and human rights.

Everyone has problems, your comment is off topic and does not enhance the conversation.

Since you mention East India Company, what makes YouTube different from them?

Please do look into what the East India Company did, I'm in no way qualified to list out the very long list of crimes/misdeeds this company did.

But one large difference is that they had a private army and used it to force through their ways in any non EU country.

It is not absurd to say that the East India Company did occupy India like a country would have occupied another country they won against in a war.

They where also one of the main driving force behind the Anglo-Chinese War (see Opium wars).

You probably got the top point on the subject of "Compare the youtube with X, What about youtube they are Y" award with this one in the thread. There are quite a few of them with a spectrum of insanity, but this one is just hilarious.

For one, YouTube does not have a private army.

YT has a legal framework that gives it protection to an extent from government interference, especially where it touches upon freedom of speech. Whether they want to use it or not is another question.

But the Party can just put officials in the Douyin (TikTok) offices and ask for any encryption key without having to divulge anything and without the company having any recourse. This in complete legality.

Large corporations becoming the end point for debate is a real problem, but I don't think it really overlaps with public/private collusion (or the lack of true private in China's case).

You don't see a difference between an ideological party which interns millions of people by ethnicity (among other glaring issues), and a corporation seeking profits from a video platform?

On the question of black box algorithms, no because it's not relevant.

I would think that the reputation of the creator becomes even more critical when considering a black box algorithm.

TikTok apps add a vector for arbitrary code download and execution. What "algorithm" you get would seem to depend on what they'd like to run on your device that day.

> Nation state vs. private corporation is different on paper,

A nation state and a company are different in substance as well. I am sympathetic to the idea that companies (in America) can do more to curtail your freedoms. But, this is only true because of our system of government. In principle, a government can do much more than a company to curtail your freedoms. In practice, this is often less true. (although if you bump into eminent domain, or similar laws, then the government is much more threatening to you.)

We don't have to look far for this theoretical: the Chinese government rounds up people and puts them in camps, and disappears people for having the wrong opinions.

Because YouTube doesn’t have nuclear weapons and a plan to invade western allies?

Let's be honest here; if India's relations with USA had soured to the same degree as with PRC, Youtube would be the one getting banned.

USA and India are friends unlike CCP which can't be trusted by anyone.

No one in the entire world with half a brain trusts the US, or any state for that matter. Too much backstabbing. Ask the Kurds.

Politics does. That's the difference. Acting on above is solely depends on political bias instead of a concrete notice. No official research conducted and released stating the harm about the apps, right?

There are no private companies in China, all of the corporate entities directly or indirectly depend on CCP, which uses every opportunity to damage national security of its enemies.

Not to mention state sponsored private firm, being private is just optics.

On YouTube at least the user has the option to search and subscribe the videos, there by controlling what is shown, it is not the same with TikTok

Xi is censoring protests on their platforms, but it's clear that Trump can't.

That's a clear proof of difference.

hmm google or the ccp. Take your pick!

The Chinese State is based on Marxism-Leninism and wants to dominate the world. There is a difference in that and any other country that acknowledges natural rights. If you believe rights are innate, then you can’t openly tolerate a state that denies them.

I often think what would California look like if it had the laws of Texas. Or what would China look like if it had the structure and motivations of Nevada? Both have Elon Musk and gambling.

I mean, they both are made of people, right? And those people have brains that they use, right? And brains are made of molecules, right? At the end of the day it's all just molecules reacting to stimuli, and basically there's no difference. Because they are molecules.

Chinese immigrant in US here:

I don't think it's a stretch to state the risk of tiktok being mass propaganda machine, from India's perspective.

Additionally, I don't take this as a particular politically charged statement against China, as quite a few replies stated. The reason is that China and India are on a very delicate geopolitical environment. The history is long and ambiguous. The current rivalry is subtle and dangerous. You just cannot give any chance in this situation. After all, China do not have any foreign social network services anyway. There is no reason to gift the opponent an potential upper hand.

The Pandora's box was formally opened in the Arab spring already. It was a well intended start, followed with an ugly development and messy prospect left for generations to suffer and struggle.

Now the whole idea of social networking services as an actual helper of connecting people with different cultural background roughly reduces to nil. That really was a buffer.

Lastly, I don't think it makes sense for any sovereign government to force their country's corporation to serve them directly.

That would immediately destroy any chance of those organizations to expand beyond their home country. Someone might argue Chinese firms are OK to that because they had a big market already. That's a totally unreasonable imagination on Chinese business men's brain structure. I never encountered any such Chinese business man who believe loyalty to CCP is higher than their profit. Other argument is that Chinese law can coerce, but all the laws are saying the company ought to corporate when necessary for the security of the country. I cannot imagine any sane political personnel can convince anyone else that offensive propaganda in peace time is necessary for national security. At least I did not see any such behavior or even minor behavior with hint of such reasoning from past history.

>As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box

All platforms recommendation and ranking algos are ultimately a black box. Why is TikTok special here?

TikTok is controlled by an authoritarian dictatorship engaged in a war against Western/Democratic values and human rights.

Not sure if you're talking about China or some Silicon Valley technocracies.

Don't cut yourself on that edge there mister.

Many around of the world see the US also an authoritarian state with little regard for human rights.

Many also ask the US for assistance and see it as a guiding light. A lot of people are upset about the visa changes, there's a reason for that, yes?

puppet state is nothing new

Not at all relevant. The post and this comment chain are about India and China.

How is US remotely comparable to China?

This is funny, can you elaborate how come a ranking algorithm is a national security threat? It reminds me of the time when Google/FB/Instagram/Twitter still worked in China, Chinese govt used the same excuse to ban big tech social platforms.

Propaganda is powerful. If China wanted to send a message to change public opinion around the world tweaking the recommendation algorithm to do that would be a very helpful tool.

The CCP band western propaganda platforms, which Facebook etc could be said to be. Fine, I think any set of ideologies need propaganda, like every company needs advertisement.

If you understand that, then surely you must see the symmetry in banning Tiktok etc?

The great firewall should work both ways, otherwise it encourages more selective censorship.

Well technically China did it first. China banned tons of foreign apps or websites because "significant national securities threat"

In the case of Facebook being banned, there is precedence for that.


foreign apps or websites?

99.9% of them are US apps and websites. you don't need to ban india apps in China as I've never heard any of them, you don't need to ban india website as the india infrastructure won't be able to serve requests from a country like China anyway.

Serving large number of requests is not an unsolved problem which only China has monopoly on. You just spin up more servers in the cloud as you get more and more users. Cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud and technologies like Kubernetes, Docker etc has made the job way too easy.

Anyway, India's hotstar holds the world record of maximum number of consecutive users watching a live stream.



> India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

This is just a lame attempt at economic warfare and "misinformation campaigns" is a very weak excuse.

What concerns me the most is that in 2020 people are overwhelmingly in favor of governments and corporations controlling what their people watch and read and think.

This is a consequence of Brexit and the election of Trump, democratic decisions that caught many people in power by surprise. Sophisticated use of social media platforms turned out to have a significant influence on public opinion. Although I agree that in principle everyone should be enabled to seek out their own information sources and form their own independent opinions, this is not what happens in the age of polarized sensationalist identity politics.

Very interesting. I would like to know more about this thought.

Is the problem, let's say, with:

- the country of origin, so if this was the exact same app from US it would have been less harmful, or,

- the amount of time people spend on it, so if people spent time on something like facebook it would have been less harmful?

The amount of data they harvest off the app is scary, but I wish we'd be just as strict with Google over it. It's like the industry is slowly moving towards limiting these things, or making this type of spying much more covert as new things become exposed like the clipboard thing that TikTok does on iOS I can only imagine it's just as bad on Android, to the point where it should be a permission on a per app basis.

I think it is the sum of the two. They don't want the Chinese government to have that much influence over their population.

It is an extreme move, but I see the logic behind it.

All RS algorithms follows non-trivial logic based on the user’s feedback. They constantly adapt and upgraded. You can add some fuzzy-rules based on your moderation principles — remove porn, videos about flat earth, abusive content, and etc. But the core algorithm hard for interpreting.

Letting government step into this space creates an alternative form of censorship. I would rather ask all content platforms for transparent open-sourced moderation rules.

At the meantime, TikTok has a remarkable traction that put in a row of the greatest product of the decade. Previously ByteDance tried to move HQ away from China, but I now I guess they might even consider selling their product.

I guess it is more political decision rather than Indian government really cares about data security. Seems that US and specifically Facebook become the absolute winner in India.

Honestly, I don't see the difference between TikTok and other social media apps and the old media. Why not ban Hollywood, the Beatles, and McDonald's then? Aren't they a source of pernicious American influence on this generation's youth?

> Aren't they a source of pernicious American influence on this generation's youth?

Many countries have broadcast laws around a maximum amount of foreign programming (for one example amongst many, private French radios have to play French music for at least 40% of their programming).

The difference is that China = bad and America = good.


> As long as the platforms recommendation and ranking algos are a black box, there is no guarantee that [insert platform here] isn’t conducting misinformation campaigns via the platform.

Just from a more farcical standpoint, the idea of one country attacking another via dance trends feels like a page out of Zoolander.

This is a world I want to live in. Where do I sign up?

My reading of the article is that it has a lot more to do with the border clash with China that killed 20 Indian soldiers with more believed to be captured (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/asia/indian-china-b...) and a subsequent desire to distance themselves from Chinese goods and services than it has to do with algorithmic transparency.

A reddit user reverse engineered Tiktok and listed some of the information they collect and the extent to which they go to obfuscate their data exfiltration.


See the top comment as the video has now been removed from YouTube.

^ Someone just posted this link and got 100 points. I got downvoted. Feels bad man.

Wasn't TikTok also caught intercepting the clipboard contents of the phones on which it was installed? Not sure about malware, but it could certainly be qualified as spyware if it actually does that.

But, if a nation can be threatened by an application, a chat, or a social network, can the ban solve the problem?

The app is not the entire problem so banning it won't/doesn't have to solve the entire problem either.

The same can be said of companies like FB and GOOG. They operate black boxes with little scrutiny from society.

FB and GOOG don't have troops stationed on India's border.

Neither does TikTok proper, and those two are in close & opaque cooperation with the US government.

TikTok would be put out of business if it was critical of the head of communist party. Google/FB permit anti-Trump content and propagate articles against the administration without blowback.

TikTok is bound to the CCP in a way that has no comparison in the west.

You're mistaking shallow Red/Blue political theatre for genuine (geo)political power struggles. If GOOG were to really challenge the supremacy of the US government, there would be swift consequences.

Doing what, exactly?

Imo they are even worse than TikTok since they are actively being used by decision making bodies in nation states. The amount of classified information those companies are privy to is mind-boggling. Political parties, NGOs, companies, private citizens - they all store their information on servers belonging to American companies.

If you consider that they also run on operating systems made by American-owned companies who don't really care that much about privacy, it's even scarier.

China isn't the boogeyman here. The United States is.

They at least have been accountable to gov officials when called upon.

But I doubt any due process was done before the ban, if any and concrete proof of wrongdoing is established before doing such things. Most of the bigger app developers will surely goto court.

If any this sounds like a propaganda move aimed at giving the people a feeling that the government has done something about it.

Some of these may relaunched as a web service, some may relaunch under a different branding, there are any number of things the app makers can legitimately do to skirt around this.

Using summary executive powers to do such is a rather undemocratic move, and which time and again this Indian Government has indicated it has no qualms of using.

This is a politically motivated move, where as it should not be. If there was established wrongdoing then ban the apps, not because it is politically convenient to do it.

There is no such thing as ABSOLUTELY right. We don't even know what's actually going on at higher levels in the government. Why isn't Alibaba & AliExpress banned?

Alibaba and AliExpress aren't banned because Indians aren't involved as much in drop-shipping as the West is. And US has already banned ePacket. AliBaba and AliExpress will collapse on its own if the West doesn't lift ban on commercial shipping. There is a huge backlog right now with shipping time going through the roof. You need to have a reliable agent in China to get goods out of China. It is pretty terrible state of affairs. If you are part of any drop-shipping groups on Facebook you'll get to see how drop-shippers are having a hard time getting packages delivered to customers.

I ordered direct from a manufacturer a month ago, order shipped from Shenzhen via Hong Kong to Europe using DHL Express (sellers choice). Total cost including shipping was less than similar offers on Amazon with standard shipping. Package arrived in 6 days (could have been 5 days if it hadn't missed a flight by mere minutes). No need for an agent, just a reputable seller and parcel delivery service.

Because the Chinese government cannot directly alter the content and rankings in AliExpress to immediately spread out it's propaganda directly to easily impressionable teenagers in the form of audio visuals.

People have been committing suicides due to social media in General. It's nothing new. Nothing to do particularly with TikTok.


Social media is polarising, if someone thinks their life is shitty - social media magnifies it several hundred times untill you've become very sure only your life suck and all people are having it easy other than you.

> India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat.

As opposed to Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and all the others?

The difference being TikTok is operated by India’s adversary.

> At the very least, the government should audit the algos and make sure China can’t arbitrarily alter ranking results.

Can we do the same for YouTube ?!

The ranking algorithm is the least of anyone's worries in my opinion.

This looks mostly like gimmick PR stunt to cover the recent setback India had with China in the border. For example see this news from a channel that supports govt. shorturl.at/acjoM This is not a comedy show, its a real prime time new show.

If India was serious about taking action it would have done something about the Chinese branded phone and Chinese infra project. All the largest phone brands in India are chinese. Same is true for Tv's. All unicorn startups in the country has considerable chinese interest. This ban carefully stays away from all apps, businesses and things that could really invite a response from China.

And it worked. As in the link above, Modi's followed have taken the bait. They are happy and all over social media celebrating this as a fitting reply for the soldiers life lost in the border.

I was skeptical about this, but I think they are surely are.

I installed tiktok just maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago.. it was kind of fun at first and was amused by some stuff on there. What it was showing me I thought was very relevant to prior stuff I had seen in some regard (just the type of humor) so I was kind of impressed.

Then all the sudden it started showing me all this pro-Trump/pro-religion/antiBLM stuff. And look, a platform like this and the age demographic the amount of pro-trump & pro-religion stuff is TINY. The amount that was coming up was baffling. And it would just be inserted at the weirdest times, where it honestly felt like I was being targeted to see this stuff.

I'm not one to be a conspiracy nut at all, but there were some flags hitting in my head that something weird was going on.. so I promptly uninstalled.

Honestly it's too bad, I think tiktok is a very unique thing, and seemed to fill some type of space where people just want to create stupid little videos that either say a little message or are just funny. But there's something weird going on.

Tiktok is just a terrible implementation of Vine. It's not unique.

I don't think there's any mystery here, I also started seeing pro-Trump posts but that's because I'd watched other posts. If you start swiping immediately on those videos, they stop showing up. The algorithm doesn't care if you watched a video because you were enjoying it or were upset but couldn't turn away (or if you left a comment to support the content or argue with the creator). They tune it to glue your eyeball to the screen.

I wouldn't watch them though, I was flipping away pretty quick.

Hard to explain exactly, just saying that it really seemed unusual. Again it was also the amount that were coming up. I watched a descent amount of BLM related videos a few nights.. like, a lot. Then a few insane trump ones which maybe I watch a few moments but keep swiping away, only to be suggested more Trump and less BLM?

Anyway- I understand it's conjecture and hard to say what I was seeing.. just seemed off, and it's pretty easy to jump to the conclusion that it was attempting to manipulate me.

Since this is HN, what’s the easiest way to roll your own brainwashing machine like Facebook or TikTok? I mean isn’t it going to be fun to plant your own ideas on people...

Going from what currently seems to be popular: huge botnets that carefully try to curate "real" users from random accounts. Rolling your own (Network that is, like FB or TikTok) seems pretty unlikely regarding initial investments, user base etc.

I wonder what's stopping them. Initial investments is likely an issue for small, poor countries, but it can't be an issue for a country like India or Saudi Arabia, and the user base can be "convinced" to use the domestic thing by doing what India does: block foreign services.

It seems more sustainable and much easier to work with if you have your own network, and you don't rely on US-services looking away / Twitter tolerating your stuff.

Will never happen because Indian governments are stuck in an unceasing bureaucratic quagmire. A tech solution, especially one that has to be culturally relevant and edgy to appeal to young people is absolutely beyond the scope of the Indian government machinery.

Yeah also note that Russia has its own domestic replacements of the popular American services. They only had to resort to bots etc for influencing American elections.

I totally agree with you there, I was arguing from the view of a bad actor, not necessarily a government.

For a bad actor, the cost-reward looks pretty low (if we assume a high initial investment like a couple hundred million dollars to approach our goal of data collection in a shorter timeframe), but for a government that is probably totally doable.

First, you need a few hundred million dollars.

we, non americans, think facebook is doing everything you describe and even worse.

> there is no guarantee that China isn’t conducting misinformation campaigns via the platform.

And who cares if they are? We live in an open society, and in the US, freedom of speech is a foundational principle. This is among the trade-offs you face when prioritizing absolute freedom of speech.

Foreign propaganda broadcast and pushed by a hostile foreign government isn't protected speech. Not sure why anyone would need to say that out loud, but here we are. 2020, going hard.

Freedom of speech is not just to protect the speaker, it's to protect the rights of the citizens to hear it.

Foreign propaganda is explicitly legal and protected in the United States. I'm sorry that you think it should not be, but it is, and it always has been throughout the entire history of the country.

How exactly do you intend to distinguish the types of speech that the government is allowed to ban? Any foreign ownership of a media organization from a country deemed an enemy of the state? And you're wondering about what needs to be said out loud?

That's not to say the United States Government cannot take _diplomatic action_ to counter propaganda. It certainly can, and it does. And indeed, the Congress just passed the Countering Foreign Propaganda Act a few years ago, to do precisely that in response to Russian efforts in the 2016 election.

But you know what it doesn't do? Ban the protected speech. We don't ban RT, which is broadcast into most of the homes in the country, despite being directly controlled by and funded by the Russian State, because that would be unconstitutional, and the Congress does not have the power to do it.

I agree with your point, but I feel there is a need to nudge people into civilized discussion platforms, where people can engage in critical analysis towards a wide array of factual statements and opinions, perhaps by placing a mandatory notice above suspected misinformation, polarizing info etc. Without such a platform, free speech could be divisive rather than liberating or illuminating.

The parent comment referenced misinformation campaigns. False statements are one of several categories of speech that are not protected.

Even that is not true. There is no criminal law against defamation, or libel. There are civil liabilities, but they almost always require the defendant to show commercial damages.

The standard in the United States is that the information published is both knowingly false and published with actual malice. And for matters of public concern, there is a further requirement that the information be provably false. Separately, the charges cannot be ridiculous, as demonstrated in Hustler v. Falwell, where it was held that even though Hustler published a story that Jerry Falwell had incestuous sex with his mother in an outhouse, and even though that story was false, known by the publisher to be false, and published with actual malice, it still did not meet the standard.

Misinformation campaigns are absolutely allowed in the United States. This is a current problem with Fake News. Fake news is protected by the First Amendment, no matter who writes it. And indeed, much of it is written by foreign agents, specifically with the intent of influencing US elections.

This argument can be used to ban all foreign press. It's nonsense, but unfortunately common in 2020.

Please tell me how that argument could be applied to the UK's press, or Canada's, or any country in the EU's, or Australia's...

What part are you missing? The hostile part? The EU and US are still in a trade war, a conflict over Nord Stream 2 as well as over Iranian sanctions in case you forgot. [1]

[1] https://www.dw.com/en/trump-ouster-will-not-heal-us-ties-say...

I care

> "India is absolutely right in banning TikTok as it is a significant national securities threat."

I'm surprised, actually, that Trump hasn't expressed a desire ban TikTok. Especially after they trolled him so badly at that Tulsa rally!

He's managed to ban Huawei over (unproven and strenuously denied) security issues. Yet TikTok has direct influence over something much more important than 5G radio equipment: the hearts and minds of a generation of American children!

China bad

Yes. That's a given.

I think the poster was saying that sarcastically - a variation of the "Orange Man Bad" meme

What I fear is whether this data could be incorporated into the state facial recognition systems already well deployed throughout China. You're potentially helping the CCP in training a tool to aid in the violent suppression of ethnic minorities.

I hope other countries follow this absolutely wise decision. China will not hesitate to use any measures for weakening national security of countries it believes to be its enemies

US should follow suit.

Well, the same applies to FaceBook, just to name one prominent example. Or Google, for that matter.

I bet this is just a corrupted ban for promoting local app of friends of friends of some minister.

I kind of agree, but 99% of the videos I see on FYP are just absolutely silly, hilarious content.

like fb, youtube, twitter, linkedIn algos are audited. Just because tiktok is Chinese app, audit it?? what kind of hypocrisy is this.

Same reason the EU should ban Facebook and Google right?

I mean, if they feel like the US is a threat to their sovereignty, and may use the platforms to push public opinions that undermine their stability, yes. If not, then why bother?

Governments may seem dumb and bureaucratic, but good ones tend to have some level of pragmatism.

It's like comparing Apples and Oranges.

I doubt they can audit close source software.

> it is a significant national securities threat

come on...

Yeah, when I saw my neece on TikTok I was feeling really bad.

Most people don't see it, but I hate it to realize that she's being slowly influenced by hidden propaganda :(

One problem is, that often you cannot easily tell people or explain to them how bad it is, because "all their friends do it too" and the network effect is particularly strong in environments like schools. You can try at least though, asking them, whether they want to know how it works.

Have you seen what people share on facebook? The toxicity on twitter? The conspiracies on youtube?

Is this regulated for US companies?

You are going to use the government to audit black box algos?

There is no guarantee any app is not doing this, should we ban all apps?

Covid-19 is biting extremely hard in India. Handling has been very poor so far.

Stroking nationalism and pointing at foreign enemies in hard times is a tried and tested tactic.

That's not true in this case. There is continued aggression by China, infringing into India borders. It would be stupid of Indian govt. not to react.

Exactly what I'm saying. A tried and tested tactic that works well. And in fact I think China is playing a similar game, and the Chinese public buys it in the same way.

But it is a dangerous game because it can get out of hands. I think both sides know it and they don't want things to escalate. We need to see how the pandemic develops and hits both countries and their economies. I'm more worried about the Indian side at the moment because the pandemic situation seems out of hands and deteriorating fast there.

And your proposed solution is?

Covid-19 originated in China and is a global pandemic due to the CCP's negligence.

I agree. Similar to using terrorist attacks to stoke nationalist feelings and distract from demonetization

I think this sort of response was inevitable and will be seen in more and more nations. China bans most of the popular websites and apps (including Wikipedia). The most recent trigger was the border standoff between India and China where Indian citizens could see and read both governments' responses, but Chinese citizens were only told Chinese govt's talking points.

This seems like yet another instance of the paradox of tolerance (reciprocity is a must have for a tolerant/liberal/globalized society): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

Though if you apply your argument with rigor and reciprocity was in play, more countries should ban american social media which censors geopolitical rivals


Venezuela, Iran and Syria do censor US media and it's far more extensive than any censorship of foreign media within the US.




They do censor american social media. Like china and north korea obviously do

It's bound to happen. See the political battles being fought for data localisation, and control of Internet governing bodies.

So you're equating the banning of accounts to the blocking of the majority of internet?

America will literally fuck with you if you start doing this at scale. India can ban Chinese app since India can do this. China needed to understand this before escalating the border tensions with India.

The paradox of tolerance is bullshit though, as it's not based on empirical evidence.

It's just armchair philosophy used as justification for intolerance by intellectuals, the mental gymnastic people need to get over their cognitive dissonance.

AFAIK Plato came up with it to justify autocracy. That says it all actually.

This seems like a really wild stance to take on a paradox. Paradoxes aren't principles, laws, or theories. They're just self-contradictory or logically contrary statements; they don't require "empirical evidence" outside of the reasoning laid out in the paradox itself.

It would be better to say that people shouldn't use a paradox as evidence for something (e.g., claim aliens must exist because of Fermi's Paradox).

> paradox of tolerance

Unnecessary use of the 'paradox' label.

If a criminal shoots a cop, that is violence.

If a cop shoots the criminal back, is that the 'paradox of violence' ?

If a surgeon cuts open a patient with a knife, to treat a tumor, is that the 'paradox of violence' ?

Violence used to curb violence is peace. Peace used to ignore violence is violence.

There is nothing 'paradoxical' about not tolerating the intolerant. That is basic justice.

You had me until here:

>Violence used to curb violence is peace. Peace used to ignore violence is violence.

So an eye for an eye, eh? And if I use my eye to look away, I also deserve to lose it? I think you are a dangerous fellow. I'd sooner allow someone to say some mean things on the internet than let someone like you ever get into a position of power.

> So an eye for an eye, eh?

So if a criminal is shooting at you (violence), the police should not shoot the criminal (also violence)?

Well no, a claim is made and that is... unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. And this is then used as an argument in debates such as this one.

Are there documented cases of this happening or is it just a wild guess?

My bet is on the later.

There is empirical evidence from the multiple natural experiments that happened on subreddits at the start of Reddit.

I personally had to come up with arguments to justifiably censor people to stop the sub I became a part of, from becoming more of a chess pool.

I was a card carrying member of the market place of ideas/ free speech camp till 12-13 years ago, at which point it was clearer to me that giving free speech to certain groups was the same as allowing prions to proliferate in the food chain.

Which is why stronger moderation was required to reverse the descent into madness - it worked.

The people who were hateful bigots were ejected and made their own forums, where they promised never to ban dissenting voices.

Sure enough, they too started banning voices because

1) they weren’t there for free speech in the first place, just for indoctrination.

2) free speech meant that They became petri dishes for even more extreme material and eventually had to be banned or risk getting the entire forum/subreddit removed.


I’d love alternate interpretations for it, if possible, but the experience from these multiple natural experiments show that letting malicious Machiavellian actors on your platform will result in the abuse of normal users and the tolerance of the system.

> 1) they weren’t there for free speech in the first place, just for indoctrination.

This is such a great point and to me rings absolutely true.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I think you're going to get heavily downvoted (HN loves the paradox of tolerance), but I wholeheartedly agree. I think it's complete nonsense, not to mention that its spirit is much better represented by older ideas (e.g. Mill's Harm Principle). "Tolerance" is kind of a weasel word anyway, essentially giving carte blanche to the one that invokes the paradox.

The evidence is in: HN hates the paradox of tolerance and loves the idea of having its cake and eating it, too. I'm not surprised, but I'm slightly surprised that you're surprised.

> "Tolerance" is kind of a weasel word anyway, essentially giving carte blanche to the one that invokes the paradox.

How so? Demonstrating that a principle makes for a poor foundation has little bearing on its ultimate validity.

> How so?

Consider a group of Neo-Nazis that want to stage a peaceful protest espousing their ideology. They get their permits and set out in a town square, chanting all kinds of anti-Semitic and white power nonsense. The question "are the Neo-Nazis being intolerant?" is a tricky one. On one hand, the answer is a resounding "yes," but on the other, they're the proverbial dog that's all bark and no bite.

Consider some local Jewish group that wants to stage a counter-protest. I'll give you the same question: are the Jewish protesters being intolerant? Again, it's a tricky one: they might argue they're being intolerant of the Neo-Nazis' intolerance (as I'm sure Popper would say).

The Neo-Nazis could, in turn, argue that they aren't being intolerant at all - they're just exercising their First Amendment rights. In fact, it's the Jewish counter-protesters that are the ones being intolerant! So we're just going around in circles debating who's being "intolerant," what "intolerant" means, and what it takes to go from "tolerant" to "intolerant" -- the classic sorites paradox[1]. This is all equivocation.

When we look at simpler tests like Mill's Harm Principle, the problem is simplified! If, the Neo-Nazis aren't harming anyone, they're free to do whatever they please -- as are the Jewish counter-protesters. Harm is a lot easier to wrap one's head around than "tolerance," so that's why I think it's a much more palatable litmus test.

[1] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sorites-paradox/

Because in that phrase, "tolerance" is not actually defined, or is defined in a way that does not match the common-sense usage of the phrase. It's kind of like how "racism" had to be redefined so that white people couldn't be victims of racism.

For me the paradox of tolerance doesn't make too much sense is because intolerance usually is recursive. There would be intolerance, and intolerance of intolerance, and intolerance of intolerance of intolerance, so on so forth. It is usually can be used as justification against other groups, since everyone is in the intolerance chain.

Maybe it should be paradox of even/odd level of tolerance? Also, in practice, it's hard to define which are the primitive intolerances and which are not.

And why should we believe you vs. Plato?

You shouldn't believe me or Plato, unless you like religion. You should believe in empirical evidence.

Is it based on empirical evidence? Is it based for example on longitudinal social studies? The answer is no.

And certainly absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence but it's baffling to me how people can cite this as fact, even if it might as well be bullshit.

I hope you realize that for the uninformed, like me, your response is as dubious as OPs. All you are saying that this is false and it has been proven by empirical evidence - trust me.

It explains cancel culture perfectly though.

> The paradox of tolerance is bullshit though

So do you tolerate intolerance?

Sorry, not falling in that trap ;-)

It is impossible to be tolerant of all things. The paradox of tolerance is one way of picking which things to be intolerant toward. There are lots of others, mostly worse. Ultimately though, we all have to pick.

Yeah, because you know it's a paradox.

et voila - we have a paradox

No, just a logical fallacy.

That isn't a natural dichotomy, it's silly to break down problems into that sort of black and white ("you're either for us or against us!" sort of nonsense). There are always multiple choices.

The real question is whether reacting with similar intolerance leaves you better off - or has any meaningful influence on the bad actors in question.

Diplomacy is full of these tradeoffs.

But it is you cannot be tolerant of all things. You can't simultaneously be tolerant of cats and of people who wish to ban cats. Those two things cannot simultaneously be accepted.

Yes you can. I tolerate cats but I also tolerate cat haters. If people wanted to ban cats, I can disagree with them, but I wouldn’t be opposed to tolerating them, hearing their opinions, and giving them a forum to talk. Tolerance does not mean endorsement or acceptance.

don't we all tolerate intolerance on some level/topics?

it seems to be perfectly acceptable to be intolerant to some groups of people and religions/ideologies.

How is "tolerance" relevant to banning apps based on national origin?

This is nothing but good old fashion economic escalation.

The China censors things so we should too stance just seems to strengthen their position of censorship...

Quite the opposite. China (the country, not China the economy) is investing billions into developing tech companies to surveil their citizens. Those apps are all centrally controlled by the Chinese government. They can freely suppress discussions without you ever knowing. Hell, they don't even need to censor it but only need to make it less discoverable.

As soon as those apps reach the western hemisphere (or just anything outside China) and become dominant communication mediums, the Chinese government will be able to dictate opinion in the West.

Thats exactly how HN keep misteriously pushing things out of the top 30 no matter how many upvotes.. Also theres control in the flagging mechansim - as in shrugs, we don’t know, it was flagged by some users... shrugs again..

Im just making the case about HN not because I disagree with their job of keeping things civil, in fact this is much less toxic a platform than many others. My point is that whoever has the control can dictate whatever they see fit or serves their interest. For that reason I’d never use TikTok, not even to see what it is about because of who is backing it

In-Q-Tel is well known here. Do we know enough about Chinese investment? Are Huawei and ZTE private companies, private with state's investment, co-owned by the state, or owned by the states to further Chinese's causes with a private facade? There should be more discussion about them here.

What do you think the ad networks and social networks are all already doing? Reddit just deleted a whole subreddit... (which ultimately moved to its own website).

At some point it's not really about censorship or freedom of speech anymore... and more about not letting the other guys win.

I think quite the contrary, China has very limited interest in using propaganda to influence the western-sphere. I used to be very inline with these news but as my old friends from youth progress in their careers in China (many in those 'state based' sectors), I grow increasingly skeptical as I know more about their mundane jobs. Yes a lot of policies seem to be from a backward society, but actually a lot are benign and these perceived 'agenda' don't really exist in real life. To be quite frank technology-wise China is still vastly behind world's frontier.

I got a little baby boy so I couldn't edit in time. Apologies if the comment above doesn't contribute much to the discussion. I don't want to come across as irrational/delusional. What I wanted to convey is that through my friends I get some insights as how that technology involved is put to work for the government. What I understand has some distance from what's been reported. That's all.

How does this have anything to do with tolerance? India has never been known to highly value tolerance, and this move is about national security rather than censorship on the Chinese apps.

> paradox of tolerance

Unnecessary use of the 'paradox' label.

If a criminal shoots a cop, that is violence.

If a cop shoots the criminal back, is that the 'paradox of violence' ?

If a surgeon cuts open a patient with a knife, to treat a tumor, is that the 'paradox of violence' ?

Violence used to curb violence is peace. Peace used to ignore violence is violence.

There is nothing 'paradoxical' about not tolerating the intolerant. That is basic justice.

>Unnecessary use of the 'paradox' label.

No, it is not. You just didn't read up what the paradox is—or what a paradox is for that matter.

Tolerating the intolerant, or intolerating the intolerant - that's not a paradox.

It's no different from the police using violence on violent people.

A reddit user, who claims to have reverse-engineered the TikTok app[1], concluded:

> TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device... well, they're using it.

> For what it's worth I've reversed the Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter apps. They don't collect anywhere near the same amount of data that TikTok does, and they sure as hell aren't outright trying to hide exactly whats being sent like TikTok is.

It doesn't seem surprising now, given that Zoom, which is also being developed in China, acts like a malware application, too[2].

I'm glad, that India is more aware of the possible consequences of using any software made in China than, for instance, the government of the UK is[3].

[1] https://old.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/fxgi06/not_new_news...

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22748204

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52126534

I didn't realize Zoom was mostly developed in China! That seems bad.

> “Our product development team is largely based in China, where personnel costs are less expensive than in many other jurisdictions,” Zoom wrote in a regulatory filing.



China has a history of data snooping to support its totalitarian goals. Software and development that comes out of there should be considered to come with elevated risk. Some companies work with this by ensuring that China-only data is served from within China. If there is no audit of code pushed from China and ran in the US, I'd be suspect that no backdoors or anything else have been introduced by coercion from the state. Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but just because you are not paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not after you.

About that reddit comment, when pressed for evidence, turns out that guy's own research is conveniently "lost" because of a motherboard failure. And someone in the comment pointed out that most of the things he found suspicious about tiktok is actually regularly employed by apps like fb, twitter etc.

I'm not taking sides and I don't have the technical expertise to judge everything said there. It's just that I'd be much more comfortable if all of those "evidences" came from a more trusted source & not a reddit comment from god-knows-who.

Honestly, as someone who doesn't belong to China/USA/India and genuinely curious about this, I'm tired of seeing all this "but but communist evil" and not much in the way of actual evidence.

> "but but communist evil"

Noone told that. CCP is not even communism.

Chinese apps collect a fucking lot of data and Indian People innocently use those shit apps like ShareIt because inertia and maybe network effects. If you want to share a movie / song something with an ordinary indian citizen you'd have needed ShareIt which is a piece of shit. Technical ones among us use Google Files or something like that but I have so far refused to use ShareIt because it is such shady adware. Note that most Indians don't have Laptop / PC and USB / Pendrives aren't ubiquitous.

Now that there is some friction between China and India and given the nature of Chinese Governance these apps are threat to national security.

Ideally they could have banned PUBG also, the shit is ruining many lives.

I don’t think it has anything to do with communism. The CCP is not communist except by name.

> > If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device... well, they're using it. For what it's worth I've reversed the Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter apps. They don't collect anywhere near the same amount of data that TikTok does, and they sure as hell aren't outright trying to hide exactly whats being sent like TikTok is.

I find this unconvincing and reddit comments are not trustworthy at all.

Wouldn't data collection be limited by the mobile OS anyway? I actually have TikTok on my phone and it requested no special permissions, compared to most other apps which don't even let you view content without validating a phone number.

>Wouldn't data collection be limited by the mobile OS anyway

Maybe on iOS. But on Android of the ones that he listed, many can be retrieved without any permissions, such as

>* Phone hardware (cpu type, number of course, hardware ids, screen dimensions, dpi, memory usage, disk space, etc)

>* Whether or not you're rooted/jailbroken

I also suspect that they can get some or all of the network information without any special permissions either.

>* Everything network-related (ip, local ip, router mac, your mac, wifi access point name)

As for "other apps you have installed", it looks like it's getting it through the "retrieve running apps" permission, although I'm not sure whether that shows up as a permission prompt or not.

> I find this unconvincing and reddit comments are not trustworthy at all.

You should probably read the original comment on reddit, not just my summary of it. I found it to be extremely detailed and technically convincing, even though it's still hard to determine the level of its trustworthiness.

The fact that his computer conveniently crashed and cannot backup his claims is pretty convincing?

Well since that edit of his was from 1 day ago, hopefully he does show the little proof he has remaining soon.

I am wary of his claims too.

Yes, that part about not being able to back up his claims wasn't there, when I first read that comment yesterday. And I also don't like that he mixes the technical critique with the moral critique of TikTok, which makes him look biased.

Still, it's a well known fact that authoritarian regimes tend to use all the tools available to them for spying in foreign countries. That's why Russia's Yandex, VKontakte, and Mail.ru are banned in Ukraine since 2017.

That report could not distinguish between ISP and Cloud provider, also between Alibaba as an e-commerce and Aliyun as Cloud provider. The report also complained about possible SQL injection, but the database it accessed is a local SQlite database. Who cares if you inject your own database?

Seems fishy.

> There's also a few snippets of code on the Android version that allows for the downloading of a remote zip file, unzipping it, and executing said binary.

If these claims are true, a remote state actor can now take over 40% of young American's phones.

Imagine if they decided to shut off everyone's ability to communicate. That would be an incredible capability to possess in the event that they wanted to launch an attack or distract us. (I'm not saying that they would, but that we should be wary of the possibility.)

This is incredibly dangerous.

Furthermore, this does not seem like an accident in TikTok's design. This app is very well put together. Given the expertise involved, I can't see this as an "oops, we didn't know" oversight with respect to either alternative design choices or platform rules. It feels very deliberate.

Google should ban this app immediately for breaking the terms, and US legislators should make a law prohibiting it outright.

We have to do some more due diligence to make sure these claims are valid, but if they do turn out to be true, then we have some very serious issues to consider.

This is one of the few instances where I'll admit that I wish Facebook or Twitter had an answer for this.

Twitter did have an answer to this. It was called Vine and was very popular before they shut it down.

the MOST SCARY stuff for me is apps that ask for your photos album permissions (so they can save to it, or upload a picture ). This permission basically gives them access to ALL your photos, including your dick pics, even when the app is in the background.

The "openness" of the west is being blatantly exploited, and yet for some reason people are still hesitant to call it out for what it is. Almost every significant US internet company is totally blocked in China. Until the US completely blocks WeChat, TikTok, Zoom and so on, China will continue to have a major geopolitical advantage.

> The scariest part of all of this is that much of the logging they're doing is remotely configurable

How is this scary at all - much less the "scariest part"? The vast majority of the bullet points also seem standard and not worth paying attention to. I also read the Penetrum paper he linked which was similarly unconvincing.

How long will it take China to rebrand these apps under a different name ?

> TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device... well, they're using it.

They might as well be describing Facebook or Google. They are data harvesting services - first and foremost. The actual applications are only the bait yet since they're owned by the country that makes those great movies and TV series, somehow, they aren't as bad.

Almost all (except 1) are Chinese made.

I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with this https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/china-has-intruded-423-metre...

I don't see a problem with targeting Chinese-made apps, given how much China blocks from other countries. Free trade has to work both ways.

I don't see a problem with banning Spyware regardless of the country of origin.

The parent comment isn't talking about spyware.

Imagine if US.app and China.app were both clean, no spyware. If China subsidizes and allows China.app to have access to their domestic market but bans US.app, while US allows China.app to rake in billions of dollars in revenue in the US - this is purely an economic fairness and global trade issue.

There is no sane defensive argument against this. Chinese market is 1.3 billion people. It is massive. Not allowing western apps/services to serve this market is unfair in every imaginable way. I would say the US should ban all CCP services/apps, etc until China opens up its borders for any country to service their people.

This shouldn't just apply to US. Are you an Italian software company? Do you need to kow-tow to the CCP or plainly banned from serving in China? Swedish company? English? Australian? German? French? This has nothing to do with nationalism or politics which divides us all. It is about preserving global trade to the benefit of all nations and following fair practices and requirements set forth by the WTO.

All democracies need to get together and put light on this problem. I think that's happenning: https://www.ipac.global/

There is also no mystery around this - China does not want to expose their citizens to international values, services, culture and information. Thus, this diplomatic/economic pressure hits the nerve center of the CCP machinery.

One reason is if US.app is allowed on the Chinese market, it will dominate due to massive technology advantage and obliterate any chance of a homegrown industry. Open markets let players who are ahead get further ahead and they don't want to kneecap their own technology industry.

It is hard to read this response being written on the platform (YCombinator forums - HN) that is designed to disrupt established monopologies, duopolies; which is poised to cut through the decades of crud piled up in every imaginable industry, and offer a new perspective; a bold, fundamental rethinking of everything from quantum computers to wind energy, from payment services to logistics; despite of the existing competition, bureaucratic barriers and red tape, government mandates, political turbulence and geopolitical forces, vendor lock-ins and exclusive contracts, entrenched and exploitative practices, despite massive open market on an international scale and allowing anyone from any country to participate and compete.

> app has a massive technology advantage

Yeah, no.


Unfair to who?

Whether I agree with it or not (I don't). China gets to have it's cake and eat it too. Big win for China, wouldn't you say?

If everyone else is willing to leave the cake on the table, It's perfectly fair for China to have it if you ask me.

Did you not read anything you're responding to? Your whole comment is senseless in context.

The reality is closer to

"Imagine if US.app and China.app were both spyware"

But India only banned the China spyware and left the US spyware roam free. If they truly cared about spyware, many other apps do similar stuff, scooping just as much data.

Even if you had no spyware, you cannot compete in China. So, twisting the topic about Spyware left and right does disservice to the the truth of the what's going on.

Spyware problem (which I condemn) is irrelevant and orthogonal.

The big difference here is that the US is not engaged in an armed, public war with India over territory. And the US is currently friendly with India.

The US spyware might be a problem in the future. But the Chinese spyware is a big problem right now. Both require different strategies to counter. And the immediate concern and first priority will always be China

Sure, but I'm not just talking about spyware. China bans lots of 'Western' apps and services that aren't spyware; Wikipedia is an obvious example.

I don't understand that argument. It sounds like you're saying that the way to get freer trade is for all parties to restrict trade, since "free trade has to work both ways."

I'm saying free trade ought to be reciprocal.

If one side is gaming the system by blocking foreign competitors while competing in those foreign markets, then that side should in turn be blocked until they're willing to change their tune.

China can be allowed to compete in other markets when they allow others to compete in their market.

Then the outcome is that a country can claim to support free trade while deliberately not supporting free trade, since "it's the other countries' fault."

No, they can't. If the US were to ban Chinese apps, and then China relented and allowed in American apps, and then the US kept the ban, that would make the hypocrisy clear.

You could even made it explicit in the law, similar to what the EU is doing for travel reciprocity now that the coronavirus situation isn't as bad: have the text of the law explicitly say that the ban automatically lifts if the other country cooperates.

I think that was exactly the intended irony of that comment.

China restricts the freedom of its citizens, so other countries should restrict the freedom of their own citizens in exchange?

It's a cost benefit analysis. We may value free speech, but not so much that we are willing to protect the right to tell 'FIRE!' on a crowded theatre. The cost of that 'freedom' is not worth the benefit. Access to a few Chinese apps is not worth the cost, which is providing China with access to sensitive personal data (WeChat) and/or subtle propaganda tools(TikTok). Anyway, if you ban either app, alternatives will quickly fill the void and the consumer loses nothing.

I don't see it that way. This is not freedom at all. But throwing others out of your home turf while cornering others' markets. Business should be two way thing.

China restricts other countries’ access to its market - other countries retaliate

Yeah: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-india-china/indians-hold-f...

China is basically using these apps as spyware.

I run WeChat on a separate phone with LineageOS and monitor its actions via the XPosed framework. It regularly scans my Wi-Fi network, checks the list of installed apps, randomly accesses sensors, and does plenty of other dubious things.

There was also a period of time where if you didn't give it Location permissions, it wouldn't let you login to WeChat. With LineageOS I was able to "give" it the permission but hand it fake sensor data instead of actual hardware data from the OS side.

I'd never think to run WeChat on a closed-source OS like iOS that doesn't give access to these kinds of introspection.

That said I don't necessarily think Facebook's or Google's set of apps are necessarily better in terms of spying, but at least it's possible to message people using a pure web interface without downloading anything, which WeChat doesn't let you do.

How does this compare with the behavior of other social media apps?

Do you know Android tracks your location even after turning on Airplane mode?

GPS tracker works via satellite and is a receiver. It is not a transmitter. Airplane mode turns off cellular services. So realtime tracking is not possible unless Airplane mode is turned off. Android can record tracker information but it has no way of transmitting it if the phone is in Airplane mode.

Yes & it immediately transmits once it comes back to cellular service.

This. Tiktok is clearly a data vacuum masquerading as a social media platform.

Aren't all social media platforms guilty of being data vacuums?

I'd rather not be feeding my draconian regime

... You think the Google/Facebook/The US government aren't insidious agencies?

> Tiktok is clearly a data vacuum masquerading as a social media platform

For any value of "TikTok," including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, iMessage, gmail, &c.

I know (and in fact use) non-standard apps for Facebook and Reddit (they are superior IMO), does TikTok contain one?

I can agree that allowing alternate clients is a step further than what Tiktok provides, but alternate clients are still piping your data into their vacuum.

Is it coincidental or incidental to their border dispute actions?

that may have escalated it but I think this was coming and honestly Chinese companies being in Gov's lap called upon itself.

Our (India) data is already a public property due to security breaches in Aadhaar. What more can TikTok get?

Like your interests? Your behavior? Your realtime location? Your health issues? Your mood? Any event that is going on in your life? Like someone died, or someone is having a birthday or you are attending a wedding?

Oh you have a wedding to attend do you? Here let me show you this ad for gifts that you can purchase at 50% discount. Oh but what about the dress that you need to wear? Here, buy this suit with 20% discount. Oh wait, you need to fly to say Delhi from your current location. Here let me offer you tickets to book your flights to at 10% discount. And while we are at it, let us retarget you endlessly, wherever you go, whichever site you visit! We will follow you. Until you buy one of the above!

Do you not see how quickly one can profile with realtime access to data? Aadhaar breach did not even include biometrics. But I bet your phone (if Chinese made) with a fingerprint or face lock would not only have your biometrics but also know every single detail about you in realtime through these apps. Aadhaar data breach is pale in comparison to this! And you have been feeding realtime data to a draconian regime for the past decade. If Aadhaar data breach upsets you, you should be frightened with what data gets collected by these social media companies.

Being on social media is a zero sum game. Either you use these platforms & give up your privacy or don't use them. These companies entire business model is about tracking your life.

Aadhaar has data like DOB, PAN, Address, Passport details which can be used for identity theft etc. It's a nightmare once it happens to anyone.

You asked what more does Tiktok (Social media) collect that Aadhaar doesn't already provide through a data breach? My answer was to that question. It has nothing to do with implications of an Aadhaar data breach. If that was your question, I would have answered that specifically.

Now coming to your new point: The details that are taken by Social Media platforms are transferred to third-parties too. And identity theft is not as big a problem as invasive tracking and profiling is. Identity theft happened before Aadhaar existed and will continue to happen whether we have Aadhaar in the future or not.

The former needs someone to actually misuse breached data. The latter is being misused in realtime. And what do you feed these social media companies apart from your realtime data? Your DOB, your address and your phone number. Then they ask you for verification that you are a real person and not a bot. For that you have to hand over your passport/aadhaar/voter ID/PAN or any detail that will confirm your identity and address location! Like I said, you can't even compare the two! Aadhaar is nothing in comparison to what is collected by social media companies and handed over to third-parties like Cambridge Analytica.

And if you think you can dox someone only through Aadhaar then you are so wrong my friend. You can literally dox anyone who has interacted online to some significant degree. Traces of their digital footprint is left every where on the internet to be exploited.

The Sino-Indian border dispute is one of the most frightening things going on right now. Two nuclear superpowers are fighting with "rods and swords"[1], restrained only by, well, restraint. Covid and police violence are bigger issues right now in my opinion, but a nuclear war could get worse than either one quite quickly.

That said, I'm glad to see this not getting much press coverage in the US. The political discourse here has shown a willingness to throw gasoline on any fire, and the last thing we need is our fearless leader weighing in on an already tense and dangerous situation.

[1] https://defencenewsofindia.com/ghatak-and-16-bihar-troops-to...

Personally, as an Indian, I don't see this situation escalating too much, especially not anywhere close to a nuclear war. Indian and Chinese leadership is mature enough to understand that a serious conflict will hurt both their ambitions. Plus, neither can really afford a war right now.

You're probably right and I hope you are.

I wonder whether that's intentional?

China uses a different coordinate system inside the country (GCJ-02 vs WGS-84) and it results in discontinuities whenever you try to display a map of a border region (for example, the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge).

That incident ... I doubt it is that.

Larger tensions and security concerns, yeah I'm willing to bet it is a larger issue.

This is a right move, in my view.

Chinese infiltration takes a myriad of forms and data collection is one of the biggest.

And those apps form a basis for click-of-the-button hacking.

And ordinary users will find it very very difficult to determine if an app is Chinese made or not.

And the Chinese govt. will have it's fingers in everyone of them, one way or the other.

What I do worry now is that since China has been exposed, it will resort to even elaborate deceptive methods to hide itself and it's infiltration.

China is not to be trusted.

You'll see the same attitude to the US from the rest of the world too

Yes. Especially in South America.

However, US is not about expansionism.

Its about trade and control. It wants markets, trade and resources.

China is about expansionism and lacks moral or ethical compass.

> However, US is not about expansionism.

... wait, what? Since when? You don't think US military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are about expansionism?

Besides, the concept of expansionism includes economic expansion, not just border expansion.

Iraq and Afghanistan are ecomonic and geopolitical reasons as well.

Economic expansion is slightly lesser degrading than border expansion.

You may bankrupt a man, he will sulk and move on, but if you occupy his land, he will lash out.

It's still expansionism, and strange to say it's not.

How would you justify the genocide of uighur Muslims in that case? Let's be honest with ourselves. The USA is not the same as China. Let's not lie to each other to prove non issues.

How is this a rational response to what I wrote? You think calling a spade a spade is too much? US is expansionist, that much is clear. Absolutely in no way am I saying that makes the US the same as China in all aspects. Both are unique in their approaches to global domination.

> However, US is not about expansionism

I love how the world paints China as an aggressive power while conveniently forgetting the completely unjustified and unwarranted invasion of Iraq by America.

From a neutral POV, China has only 'invaded' some islands. America has toppled governments and literally occupied sovereign nations - all under the guise of "national security".

And it all happened in the distant past of just 17 years ago

>> From a neutral POV, China has only 'invaded' some islands.

You should read about China's antics in African countries.


Remind me when they drop bombs on an African country's capital and hang its leader, all on a false charge of possessing WMDs.

I see absolutely no way that any American can ethically justify the invasion of Iraq.

Apparently the entire south China sea belongs to China, even the Philippines seas.

You should do some research on their involvement with debt traps and taking over foreign land.

The difference is you can just wait out US presidents. The US is significantly slower at getting things done, and for the most part everything the US does is going to be at risk of going public through whistle-blowers or the freedom of information act.

In a democratic country there are steps you can take against the company. With China everything is a black box. There are explicit rules that forbid you from taking any action against them. China itself has banned tiktok in their country.

Actually I'm looking forward to it, it would increase pressure to care about privacy or at very least help competition to grow.

How long will it take China to rebrand these apps under a different name ?

TikTok tried and that tactic didn't seem to work.

Covid cases are on rise in India. Government didn't handle lockdown well to accommodate guest (migrant) workers and they were stranded. On top of all these, lives of Indian soldiers died recently in a clash with Chinese soldiers and China is continuously testing limits at Galwan Valley. You need a disruptive breaking news to crush all these and prove Government is in control. This is simply that. This is nothing but fueling the anti-China sentiment growing in the country. This will temporarily relieve government from answering the other growing concerns.

It's also quite ironic that so many companies with strong Chinese funding are still operating. Chinese smartphone makers are also doing great in India despite economic slowdown. OnePlus recently did a flash sale and sold out.

It'll be interesting to see what's going to happen in Long term. But this one, it's just a spicy headlines.

no. there's more to it. THis stand-off, as India realizes, isn't going to end soon so country is preparing for that [0]. China is attempting to threaten/bully India for many reasons one of which is stopping India from creating near-border infrastructure. Prior governments ignored border infra on the Chinese side to appease China while China continued to develop infra on its side of the LAC. Modi has changed this policy [1].

0: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/ladakh-sta...

1: https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/the-end-of-indias-panipa...

As i said earlier in the thread.

India must shift its trade integration into democracies and wean away from China.

Everything must have a beginning and this is the right time for India to wake up and stop its indirect economic support toan authoritarian bully.

Might be a form of shifting the narrative and scapegoating for sure. But you have to admit that recent events have outlined a significant shift in Indian-Sino foreign policy. I don’t see this being reversed any time soon.

I'm always skeptical about these government does x to distract from y arguments.

I highly doubt the indian government woke up one day and said "how can we distract the public from COVID today?" and someone replied "lets ban a bunch of highly popular mobile apps and games our citizens use to entertain themselves on the internet".

That seems like a great way to make them less distracted, not more.

Boycotting China is not a binary thing. Banning Chinese funded Indian startups and Chinese mobile companies which have big plants in India(and support thousands of jobs) is a complex thing.

On the other hand, banning spyware from the country you are currently in conflict is common sense and not that tricky. It's far more than spicy headlines.



Seems like they learned from Trump and the change in visa/immigration to distract the public.

People downvoted you unjustly. Your position is substantiated.

The amount of actual impact on trade in between China, and USA is completely microscopic in relation to the amount of noise, and commotion.

One can not believe that sides genuinely oppose each other, rather than doing a theatrical performance with unspoken mutual understanding.

I'm seeing lots of comments about national security-style concerns, and framing this in terms of the recent India-China skirmishes. That all makes sense.

Where I think a lot of folks are missing the point is that this is also a tremendous boost to local Indian entrepreneurship. One of the really clever aspects of China's Great Firewall is that it keeps out international competition, which would crush local startups. By banning more advanced, foreign competitors, India gives its local entrepreneurs a chance to grow hugely successful domestic apps, which can then compete internationally.

While I agree about symmetric response to China, here is the problem:

> By banning more advanced, foreign competitors, India gives its local entrepreneurs a chance to grow hugely successful domestic apps, which can then compete internationally.

If India bans international apps from competing within India, wouldn't Indian apps from these new found enterpreneurs expect the same response from other countries? There is a paradox here.

Why should any country allow Indian apps if they cannot compete in India? You realize this is the exact same situation as what India is doing with China. Now replace China with India.

What hypocrisy!

Thing is chija is already restricting outside entrepreneurs. I don't think that's hypocrisy, it's a two way street

There's no paradox here. The balkanization of the web is a foregone conclusion. And not just between geopolitical rivals: the EU is dead set on creating a local version of FAANG companies.

EU creating its own FAANG would be a great thing for consumers - more competition. Americans wouldn’t mind using EU based services. I personally already use one such critical service - Email.

When you turn inwards(like China) and then expect widespread adoption and cooperation whilst banning domestic competition, do you really think that’s better for India?

India has the capability to compete at the global level without turning inwards. Entrepreneurs in India can and will compete internationally. When you have virtually no international competition, the overall incentive to compete is reduced and the quality with it.

>wouldn't Indian apps from these new found enterpreneurs expect the same response from other countries?

I am from India, and I don't think this would matter a lot if the company doesn't suffer from grand delusions of trying to go global etc. There are a lot of very idiosyncratic things about the culture here (just as in other countries) where it makes a lot of sense to develop India specific apps.

Also, the nature of innovation itself would change if an app is developed to cater primarily to people in India. A perfect example of this is the recently introduced UPI payments scheme, which if I understand correctly is already far ahead in terms of convenience when compared to payments services in developed countries. And I am very thankful neither Facebook nor TikTok controls it in any way, shape or form!

Otherwise, I agree with your sentiment, as it applies generally to trade policies between true allies. The only problem I have is that China is an exception when it comes to these bilateral trade policies, because they have a long history of bullying [1] smaller neighbors, and they can rarely be trusted when it comes to any kind of neighborliness. People who are pro-China should come and live a few years in these regions, and I expect they won't remain pro-China for very long.

And then throw in the rampant IP theft, and it seems to me that pro-China advocates are acting like useful idiots.

I will add a very ironic thing I read recently by one of those useful idiots, who said "Thank God this didn’t start in somewhere like India, because there’s absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done" [2]. The irony of course is that China is trying to convince the world that the virus didn't even originate in China. In other words, Mr. Jim O'Neill would likely be in Chinese prison if he had made that statement from inside of China. I bet the heavy-handedness wouldn't taste so good if you become one of the victims. Nassim Taleb would have mocked this as the statement of a guy who "has no skin in the game".

[1] https://news.usni.org/2020/01/27/panel-china-now-well-positi...

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/11/thank-god-this-didnt-start-i...

Specifically, responding to the comment about local start ups in India: I agree with these notes,

- A company that wants to cater to Indian public must understand the local system, rules, culture, laws, taboos, and norms.

- Local and domestic entrepreneurs in India have that edge by the virtue of being immersed in the locality.

- Foreign companies will always need to adapt and evolve according to the needs of the Indian public.

This is the best kind of “head start” or “subsidization” one can have in a free and open market. There is nothing wrong with this.

The problem is in preventing international companies from competing in India which, I believe was the case before the 90’s. That was a disastrous foreign policy as the history books tell us.

I was glad that finally someone provided some sort of reference, but the article's title turned out to be "China Now Well Positioned to Bully Neighbors in South China Sea". I don't doubt what you're saying, but it hardly supports the bully accusation. It was an interesting read, I had no idea that the host countries of US bases had to help pay for them.

Speaking of state victims, here's a fun fact - India rounded up all of its ethnic Chinese residents (including Indian citizens) and put them into an internment camp for 5 years with no apology or compensation.


Here is Wikipedia's version of the story:


"On 13 June 2019, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman pronounced the incident and "ordinary maritime accident".[10] The following day, the Chinese Embassy in Manila released a statement via Facebook claiming that a Chinese fishing boat, Yuemaobinyu 42212, "was berthed near Reed Bank when it was suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats". In attempting to evade the Filipino boats, the Chinese vessel's lightning grid cable dragged into the Filipino boat's pilothouse, causing the boat to tilt and founder.[11] This Facebook post however, was later deleted.[12]

China released a revised statement on 18 June 2019, this time omitting the narrative that Yuemaobinyu 42212 had been besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats. The statement referred to the incident as an "accidental collision" between fishing boats and offered sympathies to the Filipino fishermen.[13]

In August 2019 Chen Shiqin, the president of the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association sent a letter to the Philippines apologizing for one of its member's ships sinking F/B Gem-Ver and subsequently abandoning its crew.[14] It was initially reported that the apology was accepted, but this was later refuted by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.[15]"

The initial reaction to the incident certainly looks like bullying. What would you call it?

>>Speaking of state victims, here's a fun fact - India rounded up all of its ethnic Chinese residents (including Indian citizens) and put them into an internment camp for 5 years with no apology or compensation.

There was an actual war going on at that time. There is a perception in India that China backstabbed the Indian prime minister of that day. I am fairly certain not one person in China would agree.

Isn't that exactly what USA did to its Japanese citizens during World War II? Is that supposed to prove anything one way or another? Yes, during war lots of ugly things happen. But that's why nobody likes to go to war, isn't it? The first casualty of war is the truth.

Thanks for providing more references. Maybe I'm dense, but where exactly is the bullying by the Chinese side? It seems to have gone from a claim that 7-8 Filipino fishermen besieged them, to them saying it was an accident and apologizing.

> Isn't that exactly what USA did to its Japanese citizens during World War II

It was, but eventually they got the dignity of an apology and a check to get their lives in the USA back on track.

The war in India also only lasted barely 2 months, to be held for 5 years seems excessive.

> But that's why nobody likes to go to war, isn't it? The first casualty of war is the truth.

Sometimes the loss of truth is placed before the lead up to war. I'm seeing a lost respect for truth (I'm not directing this at you) and I find it very concerning.

- Banning TikTok would move traffic to Instagram, not a “local Indian entrepreneur”

- the Indian startup ecosystem is dependent on external capital, a lot of which comes from China. This protectionist attitude will lead to a overall negative sentiment about investing in Indian tech.

Your first point actually seems pretty unclear for something stated as fact. TikTok and Instagram are both social networks, sure, but they’re quite different

This is a good point, for me the most intriguing aspect of this ban.

Not only is it a good idea from security perspective - as well as privacy as a selling point - by forbidding specific, popular foreign services, it opens up the market for domestic players to grow. This is what China has done, and now India is doing the same to them.

Overall, this seems like a win for the people in India.


India’s GDP is much much smaller than most think: its smaller than California’s GDP. That doesn’t seem so bad since they’re so close to other European countries but remember that India’s population is also considerably larger.

Sorry, mind explaining the connection between India's GDP and the parent comment?

> Where I think a lot of folks are missing the point is that this is also a tremendous boost to local Indian entrepreneurship.

Last I looked, a good portion of the funding for Indian startups is from China.

I don't wanna sound like "that guy" but we have to take a step back and ask ourselves how we got here. The entire software industry has it's roots in espionage and war, even though the past 30 years have seen a massive expansion of consumer technology that, on the surface, completely removes us from that history. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. It's a wonder that we have consumer tech for entertainment and enhancing our lives and that we've built vast markets on it. But, we can't forget the fact that our experience on that end of the technology spectrum doesn't negate where and when we fit into a broader timeline spanning generations. If the doers, the technologists and creators forget this, countries like China are going to run roughshod over the United States, and use what they've learned from and about us against us and against democratic ideals abroad. I've been telling people for the past year or more to stop using TikTok and I get mostly snickers or "that's interesting". American hubris leads us to think we'll always be "on top" and that discoveries like this are fundamentally inconsequential. There's larger plays in flux at the geopolitical scale and it'd be a mistake for Americans to ignore it and pretend it's "no big deal." India has it's own reasons to conduct the ban, right or wrong, but American's should really consider following suit, especially as we head into election season and as social unrest and loose ends continue to shape America's future.

Everyone questioning India, should first Question China ! Why does this country ban these services ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

> Everyone questioning India, should first Question China

Or, you could question both. Whataboutism isn't a valid argument, so censorship of the Internet can still be wrong at the same time as China is a malevolent force both on the Internet in general terms and for specific pieces of software or services in more concrete terms.

Well, You have grown comfortable with double standards , somehow equating China with rest of world. Please spend sometime questioning that delusion. China is NO WAY QUALIFIED to question any country ! Western decency has been exploited by China for sometime.. But, For Indian politics it is payback time, killing innocents means crossing a red line...it will trigger response ! btw, US senators did introduce a bill way back in march to ban tiktok https://www.hawley.senate.gov/senators-hawley-scott-introduc...

This news must be seen along with what happened early this year.


A Great Indian Firewall is shaping up. Now that the sentiment is all "anti-China!", people would celebrate instead of protesting the great firewall.

"Masterstroke!"* - Indian public.

*Basically, anything the current leader does, his PR team and his party spokespersons end up terming "unprecedented" / "masterstroke" / "genius move". Everything seems headed towards hardcore Soviet scheme of things.

So if WeChat is basically the only messaging app allowed in China, and WeChat is not allowed to be used in India, is there any widely available platform that Indian citizens can use to chat with Chinese citizens? Making it impossible or at least very difficult to communicate with people in another country seems like it’s only going to make any divide even worse in the long term. Think of the fallout of Facebook filter bubbles but to an extreme, by making it very difficult to even communicate with someone in a different culture with different viewpoints.

> So if WeChat is basically the only messaging app allowed in China

How did you get that impression? There are a ton of chinese messanging apps, e.g., QQ, which is also on the list of banned apps.

Great job refuting your own point. QQ is owned by the same parent company as WeChat (Tencent). Tencent is also implementing the Chinese Social Credit Score system, and so in my humble opinion, is the tech arm of the chinese government.

It really comes down to what "basically the only one" means. But I wouldn't aggree that "google hangouts is basically the only messaging app" would even extend to all the other messaging apps google ever produced. (Please note that this is an example of formulation and what I consider that encompasses, not that hangouts is the only messaging app in any context.)

But besides that: There exist further chinese messengers and non chinese messengers that are not blocked in china.

The rest is, in my opinion, irrelevant to the topic of wechat being the only chinese messaging app.

Have you ever thought that maybe China shouldn't banned all foreign social media and messaging services in the first place? They literally divided the world by putting up a wall between themselves and the rest of the globe, the Great Firewall. Besides, the divide between China and the rest of the world has already happened on the ideological level.

WhatsApp is incredibly popular in India.

And blocked in China.

Recently unblocked.

From the Wiki:

>WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, whose main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009.[208] In September 2017, security researchers reported to The New York Times that the WhatsApp service had been completely blocked in China.[209][210]

>According to Time, Sarsenbek Akaruli, 45, a veterinarian and trader from Ili, Xinjiang, was arrested in Xinjiang on November 2, 2017. As of November 2019, he is still in a detention camp. According to his wife Gulnur Kosdaulet, Akaruli was put in the camp after police found the banned messaging app WhatsApp on his cell phone. Kosdaulet, a citizen of neighboring Kazakhstan, has traveled to Xinjiang on four occasions to search for her husband but could not get help from friends in the Communist Party of China. Kosdaulet said of her friends, "Nobody wanted to risk being recorded on security cameras talking to me in case they ended up in the camps themselves."[211]

Are they still putting people in concentration camps for having an app on their phone?

The language barrier already guarantees that. Only 12.6 percent of Indians speak English and only 6.4 percent of Chinese speak English. The overlap is worse with any other common language.

You can send a text message...

International text messages can cost a fortune to send

Or even receive in some cases. My driver in India was paranoid that I might get his number because I receiving a text could cost more than a days wages.

Email should work. Or XMPP.

Signal works inside China, as long as you installed it outside.

Would iMessage work between India and China?

Facetime works.


Please do some research, Telegram has never worked in China for any extended period of time.

This ban is primarily to satiate anti-China sentiment.

The global economy is too interwined with China. No country can afford to put a blanket ban on things that matter, without a viable plan-B.

Overnight, I agree. But I think the decoupling will happen. The outsourcing to China took about 10 years (mid 90s to mid 2000s). It will likely not take a lot longer to decouple. 10y is very rapid.

We in the U.S. should have partnered more closely with India in the first place. India is democratic and hold values closer to our own. The CCP not so much.

International Partnerships are not based on values or Democracy/*cracy. China moved to market based economy earlier then India and being an autocratic country the move was swift and efficient. US wanted to befriend China against Russia in 70s/80s. India started late and kept struggling internally because of the democratic values.

If values were such important, Saudis wouldn't have been your best buddies.

>[not all] International Partnerships are not based on values or Democracy/*cracy


Think about the "special relationship" among the UK/US that is (definitely was) primarily based on values.

The Saudis are a pragmatic ally, not a values-based one. Both exist.

> Think about the "special relationship" among the UK/US that is (definitely was) primarily based on values.

Which values? Atheism? The welfare state? Well defined social classes? The royal family?

I completely agree, my understanding of why the US did not is due to India's ties with the Soviet Union and Russia.


Would love to hear more detail from those who know more on the subject.

US wanted proximity to Afghanistan and always warmed up to Pakistan. China knew Pakistan would never compete with them. Sided with Pak to keep India in check. India had no option but to lean on Russia initially.

More democratic than China, yes. A low bar to clear.

While you may disagree with the current elected government in India (I do as well), it is the definition of democracy. Majority of the population did want that government. Also, in India a person managed to lead a protest, form an entire new party and become the chief minister of a state because people were behind him. That is democracy as well. Tell me when has that happened in the states in recent times.

> Also, in India a person managed to lead a protest, form an entire new party and become the chief minister of a state because people were behind him. That is democracy as well. Tell me when has that happened in the states in recent times.

This seems like a really specific request. I'm not sure what aspect you're looking for. But for starters, here's an interesting wikipedia page for governors that went outside the major parties:


Looks like the most common thing in recent times is to just use the label "independent" rather than start a new party.

The person you are responding to is based in Ontario and is therefore probably Canadian. I'm not informed enough to have an opinion on Canadian politics, but I do know that Canada is has provinces, not states. ;)

I believe the shift to this is already happening.

That's perhaps why China is getting a bit more cocky

More to do with India being on back foot. Lockdown has halted the economy, millions of migrant workers have been displaced and MSMEs are in disarray. India can't afford to have a war at the moment.

I don't think any substantial shift will happen in near future.

> India is democratic and hold values closer to our own.

Especially in terms of mixing religion and politics and right-wing based supremacy views.

This aside, the societal dynamics at large are remarkably, surprisingly similar.

Spontaneous protests around Floyd's killing are different from the anti CAA protestors. All the protest leaders (students) are in jail and accused of terrorism. Dissent is suppressed. How can the two societies be similar?

Yup. US should have partnered with India as the largest functioning democracy. But that was 50 years back. Last 6 years though, there is a clear challenge to democracy from right wing and fascist groups. Eerily similar to what happened in pre-Nazi Germany. This decade will tell us if democracy will survive.

Uncritical alliance or support will only strengthen the anti-democratic forces. The govt is very interested in stoking anger against an external force (china) to divert serious failures in handling covid crisis. It had adopted the same strategy using pakistan or muslims as the bogey man several times in the recent past.

I agree, however India has a bureaucracy that makes running and starting businesses over there extremely difficult. As well as aggressive tariffs and Byzantine legal processes. China can be a difficult place, but nothing seems to approach India when it comes to paperwork and the dismal speed at which things get done.

Well, except getting your money out of China is also very hard :)

De coupling with Chinese economy is good for India in the long run.

This is the first step.

India should engage more with democracies.

What democracies do you think are capable of meeting India's vast demand for consumer goods? Anything in the developed world is going to be prohibitively expensive. Anything outside is most likely a "democracy" just in name, or already within China's sphere of influence.

The trade alliance with China has been materially good to Indians. We've been able to afford more goods at cheaper rates. While we should try and move things back home, it's not going to happen overnight.

In the meantime, a population that was already struggling with income inequality, wage stagnation, unemployment and even growing poverty will see its material wealth slip further.

You have to start somewhere, this is a starting point.

It's better than just raising the hands and saying that it cannot be done.

If we walk into the past a little in 2000 world is not intertwined with China, and very likely 2040 world is not intertwined with China.

If only people read about PBOC, CNY/CNH and how currency is a political tool within China, you realize they have successfully exploited the "free market" impulse to effectively use state capitalism and dumping to create the world we are in Today.

Just because the supply chains got complex and intertwined with China does not mean it will that way forever -- it is going to be a painful 5 - 10 years, just like the ramp up, the tear down will take time.

And yet, China bans foreign apps.

God forbid other countries give China a taste of their own medicine.

I have a conspiracy theory here. Alibaba & AliExpress are missing in that banned list. This seems more like a direct hit on ByteDance rather than China.

Facebook recently invested in Reliance Jio. There have been other investments from Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners etc.

TikTok is a big threat to FB, Instagram & YouTube. ByteDance apps TikTok, Vigo Video, Helo have around 300 million users in India. Facebook user base is 280 million. ByteDance had more apps planned for this year.

Banning BD is a big win for Facebook & Reliance. Government also get's to score a few points in this coronavirus mess.

Alibaba and aliexpress are not popular in india, hardly anyone uses them in India. May be that’s why they were spared banning.

And it's just a conspiracy theory.

When military is getting active, they seriously don't care about a chat app.

Except if it's from the invader ofc.

Its more to do with the border skirmish.

I don't understand what's the objective here. Banning these apps will have 0 or little financial impact on China. This seems more like a publicity stunt. Banning Alibaba would have been a bold move.

> I don't understand what's the objective here. Banning these apps will have 0 or little financial impact on China

The intent is not financial. The intent is to block the direct access that China has to manipulate and shape opinions inside India. It's to prevent China from opening another front in it's ongoing war with it's neighbors.

India smartphone marketshare:

Xiaomi 30%

Vivo 17%

Samsung 16%

Realme 14%

Oppo 12%

Others 11%


Curious why can't India learn the lesson that China uses to change these statistics in 3 months? Of course, if it is related to long-term national security.

- Ban the companies for 3 months. Then allow selectively. - Reduce the tax from South Korea and Japan.

Because of trade deficit that is already in China's favour. I assume banning these companies means further actions on China's part that will impact India even harder.

Would deficit reduce if we ban mobile providers, since deficit is more on side of India.

Doesn't china comparatively has lesser moves than india as it enjoys trade benefit far more than India.

No here we don't know what steps they would take, they could block trade of things we need. Its not just about the trade deficit itself.

I'm curious how this will affect the local startup scene. There's definitely a great demand for these products that now needs to be fulfilled by local / non-Chinese international players.

If this ban lasts:

My concern is that Facebook will introduce India-specific products to fill this void, while my hope is that local players significantly up their product quality and reach to build a strong domestic tech scene - the way China did a decade and a half ago w/ Tencent, Baidu, ByteDance, etc. This domestic talent expansion will help build a stronger domestic tech ecosystem.

Why the concern w/ Facebook? They already have a deathly grip on Indian consumers w/ WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram. Tik Tok was the only major social platform used by Indians that wasn't owned by Facebook, and now they have a chance to potentially grab that as well. I'm not comfortable with one company owning that much attention, I don't trust their privacy policies with their data privacy track record and they don't iterate quickly enough on localized product-features meaning Indian users lag months / years behind western regions (e.g. Instagram in-app shopping experience).

What do you think the local market needs right now?

Can you give some example?

To be clear, India has banned most of the apps listed for the members of their army years ago.

Also, many of the apps listed have been removed from the Google Play store several times for violating Googles developer policies and user privacy.

Anyone familiar with Android knows to avoid apps made by DU and CM.

Another little known factoid is that the “Beauty camera” line (Mitu?) has an admistrative level person that used to work at Cambridge Analytica.

Surprised a free tool app would want that guy.

What surprises me is that the discussion here is taking the original article at face value. Sure, the Indian govt is citing national security as the reason for the ban. But take a slightly cynical view, and focus your attention on this sentence:

"Jayanth Kolla, an analyst at research firm Convergence Catalyst, told TechCrunch the move was surprising and will have huge impact on Chinese firms, many of which count India as their biggest market."

That's the real reason. This is just posturing between two neighbouring countries who are currently involved in a border dispute. There is already a lot of military posturing, a lot of diplomatic posturing and now a lot of market posturing, which includes the Internet.

It's probable that the border issue made them more willing to take actions that they might normally avoid in fears of unnecessarily angering China. I think of it less as pure posturing and more as, if we're already in a border dispute we might as well take the opportunity to do some things we planned to but put off.

Yup, this border issue may well be a good thing for India. New Delhi can now officially treat China as an adversary nation and take steps towards securing its national interest without any moral dilemma and without any care as to how CCP will perceive such steps. CCP is now considered hostile so there’s nothing to lose for India.

It has everything to do with current border skirmish. Also, 44% percent of tiktok users are from India.

Source on the demographics? That’s really interesting.

I hope many countries to follow this example, not by banning and censorship but actually banning the botnets that are no good and just for mining data.

For context, India and China are currently locked in a border conflict and both sides are building up[1]. There is also the issue of PRC's National Intelligence Law, which mandates every Chinese company's assistance and cooperation with the state intelligence[2].

1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/satellite-images-s...

2. https://www.lawfareblog.com/beijings-new-national-intelligen...

We've changed the URL from https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1635206 to an article that adds a bit of background. If there's a better article, we can change it again.

The site guidelines call for original sources, of course (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html), but press releases are a bit of a grey area because they tend to leave out important context, if not outright mislead.

Well.. besides the blatant privacy concerns, it seems fair to ban Chinese apps since they themselves also ban foreign apps.

I strongly disagree. We should prefer to not divide the world if we can. The sentiment "If they can be bad, so can I" is not the recipe for a world I want to build. I believe the world would regress if we kept acting like that.

It's easy to be idealistic while sitting at home comfortably . These 2 countries are currently at the brink of war, when one country attacks you, you need to defend yourself anyway you can. I don't see anything wrong in Indias actions. China has long asked for such rebuttal from its neighbors.

If you can't contain the hostile players, limiting youself is only going to speed up your own death.

But what's the alternative? Appeasement?

Glad to see India understanding the threat to national security posed by these apps. I would like to see the US do the same.

I would find it very problematic if the US government attempted to interfere with it's citizens downloading whatever software they want. I absolutely do not trust the US government to be the arbitrator of what app's are "safe".

What are your thoughts about China banning anything but local apps/services for domestic use but the rest of the world is OK with allowing Chinese apps/services to compete with the domestic apps/services? I think there is some level of asymmetry here, not sure how best to resolve it without giving up the citizen's freedoms as you expressed. This asymmetry is problematic because western democracies are barred to profit from Chinese market (1.3 billion people) and the Chinese companies which are in bed with the CCP would benefit domestically + internationally. That's unfair I think.

One compromise would be to promote democracies around the world and incentivize apps/services developed, operated and controlled in democratic environments.

Just like you'd buy coffee with Fair Trade [1] mark, one way to incentivize the public would be through marketing - "Made in Democracy" mark on a laptop, a lathe-machine, a watch or what have you.

We should have a non-profit org that promotes manufacturing in democracies. From shirts to iOS apps, it would be interesting to experiment with a "Made in Democracy" or "Developed in Democracy" mark.

I ran this idea through a manufacturing consultant in SF and they were very receptive of it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

You mean like the CE logo that marks products safe in Europe? Chinese companies are practically faking it:


That's absolutely reprehensible and cunning.

In addition to counterfeiting and deception, another problem is in the definition of what constitutes, for example, a "Made in Switzerland" product. According to Swiss law, 60% of the manufacturing BOM cost needs to be domestically sourced [1]. Therein lies the problem of enforcement as well as impossibilities due to the entangled supply-chain with China as well as accountability and prevention of abuse.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_made

Really they are seperate matters of banning in my opinion of speech vs payment as murky and intertwined as they may be. Demonetizing it is far more defensible than banning the speech per se and far less exploitable and narrower scoped to the goals.

Essentially in this case it would make more sense to embargo financial systems from Chinese application developers (putting aside how poorly the attempted trade war have gone in the past) but the apps themselves being technically legal.

I am not sure of the actual cold war legal specifics but it would be like the difference between wiring money to Pravda being illegal funding of the USSR but republishing it in the US to point out what the hell they are saying internally would be protected. (The piracy being allowed is essentially a feature - why privledge enemies with your enforcement absent existing treaties?)

Perhaps we should make a distinction between the right for citizens to obtain the apps and the right for Chinese sellers to monetise them.

Well, the US goverment has interfered with it's citizens downloading whatever software they want, and is currently doing so via embargoes.

I think banning spyware is less problematic than the rest of the current and past interference and might actually have some positive effects.

The US however could enact privacy laws, which could force TikTok into compliance.

Problematic for whom? The average citizen doesn't realize the threats and has no idea of safe/unsafe, so there must be someone to decide for them. People who are aware of threats, and are willing to accept the risks can surely find their way around the bans.

This is a common sentiment: distrust in the US government. Given that 30% of income goes to the feds, might be time to change the government to be more trust worthy. Good thing elections are coming up.

This is a pretty common response: just vote for the other guy. Too bad no one trustworthy is running for the executive office.

So it's time to change the system. Ranked choice voting and a third party could make a world of difference. Continuing to give all your money to an entity you don't trust isn't a working plan. It leads to, for instance, the COVID response.

Defeatism around something so critically important to the success of a country isn't a plan.

I was not trying to suggest defeatism, just sick of hearing voting in the current system as a reasonable response to anything. Not saying don't vote, just saying stop suggesting it's the way to fix specific problems. Voting probably won't fix most problems.

Absolutely, one of the big systemic changes we need to effect is a switch to ranked choice voting. There are several other significant changes to the US's voting system that would also be needed. Things like a complete elimination of voting machines, and honestly a full switch to vote-by-mail would probably help.

Of course, the voting system in this country isn't even the biggest problem, some how. Things need to change before next election, not in a few election cycles.

There are many layers of power. You have senators, house representatives, and a president. You also have local (includes police services) and state representatives. The executive branch is just one of many governments you get to vote for.

As long as there isn't a better system, voting for the lesser evil seems like the least one could do. You can continue the fight for a better system when you don't have an actively racist president for example.

I'm not proposing not voting. I'm just sick of hearing it offered as if it's somehow a solution to the increasingly obvious fact that the US government is fundamentally incapable of doing the basic things expected of it by it's citizens, like being trusted to not abuse it's power when doing things like gating access to potentially dangerous software.

Obviously it would be really REALLY nice if there was a trustworthy entity who could do that, but it's pretty absurd to suggest that if we simply vote for the other guy suddenly the US government will be that entity.

>This is a common sentiment: distrust in the US government.

No, this ain't just it. Even if I trusted the current US government (which is already a shaky premise to begin with), I cannot be sure I will trust the US government that will be in place in 10 years or 20 years. And once you give them that power, there is no easy way to put it back in the box.

So, for me at least, it is less about distrust and more of a "freedom" or "systems" sort of an argument. I am ok with the government issuing some sort of an "advisory list" of potentially invasive apps. But no, I don't want government to essentially preventing me from using certain apps due to "privacy concerns", if I am aware of the risks and still want to proceed.

This is the same argument I'm hearing from people who refuse to wear masks. Unfortunately, the freedom of some is a security risk for others.

Any government is only as good as the trust people place in it. A trusted government invites trust-worthy candidates, is held to a higher standard of transparency, etc. If you want a government that you can trust, you may want to write to your congress-people and ask, for instance, that they ban corporate funding of elections (through those ridiculous dinners), Super PACs, etc. By the people, for the people, after all.

It isn't similar at all. What are the serious downsides of the mask requirement? I guess a little bit of inconvenience, but there is nothing fundamentally terrible that it can directly lead to, which isn't the case with app bans.

Like, first they made us wear masks, what's next? Kind of literally nothing, there is nowhere further to push this specific requirement towards. And the requirement itself is very specific and leaves no room for ambiguity. This law doesn't give the government any power to make arbitrary decisions. Neither does it require trust in the government. It is just a very specific one-off thing. The effects of this law remain within the specific scope of what this law was intending to do and have no room to escape.

With app bans, you can easily imagine tons of "worst case" scenarios, where they ban arbitrary apps they don't like or don't want people to use. Why? Because the right to ban apps includes a lot of room for ambiguity. It gives power to the government to decide which apps they want to ban, based on their own criteria that don't need to align with reality or what people want. Given how digitized our lives are these days, this is an insane amount of power that can be used fairly arbitrarily. And it relies solely on your trust in the government acting in the interests of their populace at all times.

P.S. Mind you, my sentiment on app bans by the government doesn't apply to app bans for super specific scenarios, like certain app bans on work devices for groups of people with access to classified info. For example, banning WhatsApp and TikTok on work devices for active military and people working on classified contracts for the government? That's a fair game, because the reasoning makes sense, and there is way more at stake than just "personal data" or something like that. And the devices aren't even personal, in the first place. And, it is something you can sort of choose to do by working on classified projects. You have agency over this and can take concrete steps to avoid this ban affecting you. Blanket banning apps for everyone in the country? Yeah, I am not a fan of this.

No it isn't comparable at all. Mask requirements are far less exploitable for other purposea than censorship. The far out worst case for abuse is considering an uncovered face public nudity.

You're completely missing the point: no government should get to decide what apps to ban.

In some countries, people trust their government to do the right thing. If the people in power believe that an app is a security risk, they ban it.

> In some countries, people trust their government to do the right thing.

In some countries, some people trust their government to do such things, and it may even be majority of people. That doesn't help the portion of citizens that get such decisions imposed on them against their will.

Then people are fucking morons. There are no two ways about it - abusable power will be abused. Hell "security risk" as a rationale is a vague layer to shield from criticism of policies. Since it is implicitly the magical special pleading wand known as "national security".

The US government was founded upon the idea that the US government is not to be trusted. That's why our constitution features a separation of powers and contains a non-exhaustive list of things the government is explicitly not allowed to do. If the government were trustworthy, such restrictions would not be necessary.

With whom shall we fill the seats? The only party truly interested in liberty is the Libertarians. I doubt they can get their act together to provide a reasoned, unified platform. They need more than sound bites and a guy in an oversized hat or boot. I like them. I lean that way. I vote for the candidate for president, but they are not a good party.

Let’s look at the latest tragity, the EARN IT bill you will see that this is a bi-partisan effort. The Democrats are not standing in opposition. They are co-sponsors. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/339...

While I share your skepticism toward the US government, phone apps are different from books and even from websites; I don’t trust apps made by a company subject to CCP influence and/or control, nor do I think the usual arguments against censorship apply.

The average citizen is dumb enough to not be able to discern spyware from innocent apps.

It is the duty of the government to protect its citizens from foreign influence and banning apps is a legitimate exercise of the govts power in fulfilling that duty.

I would to.

However, I wouldn't oppose there being a "cyber martial law" if there was some sort of "cyber declaration of war" that would enable the US government to declare software/hardware products from another country to not be used in native soil (while in "cyber war").

The US doesn't have to allow a malicious player to map their whole infrastructure and technology usage habits.

Democracy is very hard, why would the US have to allow other countries to be able to have such a strong profile and possible blackmail on its citizens?

banning the usage of WeChat for public officials or national defense companies and so on would make some sense, I fail to see however how TikTok is a security threat. It's just a response to the clash over the border and nothing else, and not really a particularly effective one at that.

Have you seen any of the recently posted analyses of the TikTok binaries?


Yes, some of them are somewhat hyperbolic like the Apple keyboard thing which was apparently related to some sort of anti-spam feature, but in general that makes TikTok a privacy mess, which is undoubtly true but not really grounds for a national ban on the basis of security. By that logic you'd have to throw half the app store out.

> By that logic you'd have to throw half the app store out.

You almost got it. We do indeed need to make it harder to spy on people. Not doing anything is not the better option right now.

The ban makes perfect sense when you add the current India-China conflict and PRC's National Intelligence Law into the mix.


> not really grounds for a national ban on the basis of security

All Chinese companies are completely at the mercy of CCP. No two ways about it. If tomorrow a War does break out between India and China, then the CCP can utilize these apps to spread propaganda to influence Indian public against the Government. Foreign interference is grounds for strengthening National Security. And this ban is not from the Government alone. Indians have literally been demanding a boycott of Chinese apps and goods for well over a year now! So it is actually the Government which has acted late!

You can read more about it here: https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/tech-news/tiktok-app-...

It is not easy to get an app rating to go down from 4.9/5 to 1.3 within few days on Google Play Store when it has close to 1.5 billion downloads. You can imagine the anger among the Indian public.

Tiktok can be a huge threat because their recommendation algorithms are black box. This makes them capable of controlling how potentially dangerous information is disseminated in the United States, including topics influencing elections.

All they need is a directive from the CCP. PRC even has a 'National Intelligence law' in place for that:


They have demonstrated their capabilities by their censorship of certain types of people. It's not "it could be a threat" it currently is.

>And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

If you're concerned about Tiktok influence where most content can be described as attractive young people do nonsense on camera you should be much more worried about Twitter, Facebook, Google, News media, Reddit, etc.

Why not both?

I'm not sure where to draw the line between security and privacy and whether this distinction should be made at all, but: http://archive.is/WYLKa

TL;DR TikTok looks waaaaaay more shady than FB with their Android SDK.

(seems like archive.is is down atm, tried to load via wayback machine, but they don't have this site cached, ugh)

have you ever wondered why China blocks all apps from other countries ?

while I absolutely won't allow any of those apps on my school-aged children phones and would never install one myself, it would be absolutely wrong for US government to dictate what software we can and can not use. Same goes for books and movies.

How about changing from "dictate" to "recommend or advise" for betterment of Americans?

Sooner or later it will happen

Yes and Europe doing the same to Chinese and US apps.

If we started taking gdpr more seriously, the apps basically ban themselves!

CCP, NSA, tomato tomato.

I am an Indian and here is my perspective.

A significant portion of Indian smartphone users are not technically literate. Lot of shady adware developed in China is ubiquitous in India, due to inertia and network effects, as well as lack of awareness about security / permissions given to apps etc..

For example, that file sharing application called ShareIt. That's a piece of shit. But people used it and if you wanted to share some movie / song / something like that with other people, you would've needed that crap. I have refused to use such adware since an year and it worked for me because content I consume was different, there was cheap Jio internet and I didn't need to share much files with others. The technically educated of us used Google Files or Xender which were better than ShareIt. And most people don't own PC/Laptop thus Pendrives are out of question.

Similarly people used browsers like UC browser without concerns, because they didn't know better.

Now there is friction between China and India, the ubiquity of Chinese apps is a threat, and Govt. has taken right step. But more stuff needs to be banned, and the danger needs to be clearly communicated instead of a blanket ban, which leads people to think it is just an act of patriotism.

Surprisingly HNers are embracing the concept of cyber sovereignty that China and Russia are pushing.

money makes it easy for them.

Slightly off topic. After the Covid-19 masks are not useful / we must wear masks fiasco, if you are willing to think it through, it is painful how most media are not independent at all. At best they are beholden to group thinks, parroting government officials. At worst they are just instruments of propaganda. I believe it is time for each person to control the information they receive, just like diet. AdBlockers are a good first step.

For anyone interested, here is the US National Security's view on the current standoff between China and India, from China's strategic perspective:


Seems these repercussions are already put into consideration.

I am from India, and I don't understand this. Why are people comparing TikTok to Facebook and Google? Facebook and Google do horrible user tracking, but there is a big difference.

There is such a thing as real dissent in the country where Facebook and Google are headquartered. It actually matters to people who use these services.

Do you doubt it? A Twitter account like this cannot be run from inside of China:


If you disagree, please comment with a Twitter profile (preferably written in English, but I can also use Google Translate if it is written in Chinese) and change my mind.

What about all the naysayers about a LOT of America's policies who still have a public platform? Here is an example:


By the way, just because I am linking to it doesn't mean I agree with everything on that website, which is sort of the whole point isn't it? I am still able to read and then think about dissenting voices.

Can someone show me the Chinese equivalent of that website?

India China have military asymmetry, in favor of later.

In such scenario, it is not difficult to imagine, that India use whatever strengths it has, to compensate for this asymmetry.

India is a big digital market. Consumerism is being weaponized. One can debate if this indeed is the driver or not. Yet, a statement has been made.

Boycott of Chinese physical goods is not as straightforward as digital ones. Low hanging fruit, to make a statement.

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice, this is lunatic gambling advice from a systems engineer with a background in polymers who is an American born Indian.

Tibet quenches the thirst of 3Bn people through ~10 rivers in SE Asia.

Kashmir and Tibet are red hot conflict zones and this is through and through a contest of freshwater.

This is a powder keg unlike any other and this scenario is collateral shrapnel.

China has 5% arable land and its water becomes more putrid by the day. 20% of industrial waste water pollution is from textile dye that's dumped into water, and China has cornered the textile manufacturing market.

China uses water for dams. They built something like 20k+ dams in 70 years.

China uses water for agriculture, extremely inefficiently.

China weaponized water data on the Brahmaputra river and it caused downstream deaths in India.

I'm aggressively invested in $DFEN and $BA.

Boeing has 400 vendors in Inda. This will heat up.

MOD and DRDO ain't no joke.

If you were a murderous dictator like Xi Jinping, it would be prudent to kill the muslim minority to ensure a long and stable CCP indoctrinated control of Tibet and all the water brouhaha.

Yes, obviously, long term intense military conflict between nuclear powers leads in incredible security.

While both countries engage in Sabre rattling, its inconceivable that there would be an arms race of the kind that would cause a significant change in the stock price of defense contractors.

A more likely scenario is the upcoming Biden administration steps in and bullies China and/or India into backing down. The hollowing out of the US State department has probably been one of the most underappreciated casualties of the Trump administration.

> A more likely scenario is the upcoming Biden administration steps in and bullies China and/or India into backing down.

Australian here wayyyyyy out of the US political loop. Is Joe Biden looking likely to win? Has he been promising a hard-line stance on China?

He’s up by wide margins in the polls so statistically, yes.

Although, as the 2016 election showed, polls may not always be reliable.

Everyone is kissing China's netherlands for their hardware, and suddenly becoming precious over their software.


Hardware is also getting a fair share of international bans

How does this ban actually get enforced? How are the apps blocked on devices which already have them installed?

Sounds like it'll be a combination of pulling them from the app stores in India and ISPs blocking connections to the relevant server IPs.

Any sources? I am also curious about this.

An aspect that most people seem to be missing is that this gives the Indians an opportunity to create their own apps and social networks. This has two benefits, it is a safeguard against information propaganda, and it gives protection to the Indian software industry to grow.

Not completely related I guess, but ...

I recently bought an LG phone for mobile dev (LG V30). I need to enable developer mode to properly use this device for development. I am able to set the device in developer mode, but there is no way to select transfer protocol over USD with connected computer.

I worry this device might be hacked and this device is modified to prevent people from removing any hacks. I am also not able to do a hardware reset using the instructions I can find on internet.

On the other hand, this could just be some weird Android bug. But I think it's all quite suspicious.

By the way, part of the OS (e.g. the first menu shown after doing a soft reset) are not in English, only in Korean (I think). Also a bit weird imo.

Either way, these weird experiences with this device made me a lot more worried about security.

The kids are going to be pissed with Mr. Modi :) I hope he has a plan of where this goes.

Kids can't vote.

And parents will appreciate that their kids are spending less time on social media (hopefully) :)

While there may be a legitimate discussion to be had about the dangers of foriegn-state controlled mass social media, it is rather disheartening to see so many cheer the restriction of user freedom and increasing censorship.

I just noticed that the link to the official Indian gov press release was modified to TechCrunch.

@dang - why was this changed, do you know? May be the Indian Gov Press release site hit hard by HN?

I run a hard tech product team, our product is moving from prototype to the alpha stage in the next three months. Lots of components come in from China, because they cost twice as much in this country. WeChat is how we (or anyone) talk to Chinese vendors. No Canton Fair, no China travel, communication cut off at its knees, and issues with customs' clearances - this is going to be a brutal time for strained budgets and timelines.

> The 2020 China–India skirmishes are part of an ongoing military standoff between China and India. ...numerous Indian government officials said that border tensions will not impact trade between India and China despite some Indian campaigns about boycotting Chinese products. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_China–India_skirmishes

This is fascinating - I have been quantitatively tracking TikTok trends and Indian songs consistently top the charts on TikTok by view counts. This will displace many Indian TikTok users and either a new platform will spring up, or Indians will get slightly better at using VPNs (just like internet users in China).

(For the curious, my TikTok data is shared here: https://tiktometer.com)

This weekend "someone" was asserting TikTok was extremely malicious, but a lot of things in it raised red flags for me. I wrote up details about the supposed malicious action, and got a little discussion going over on this thread, but it hasn't gotten traction so far:


TL;DR: A tweet posts photos of "someone on reddit" saying they had analyzed the TikTok client and it was sending all sorts of data and able to execute .zip downloads, etc. Reddit thread has the poster saying "I'd provide proof, but it's in a soldered on SSD in a broken computer."

Tiktok is a happy app. It make you smile, laugh and relax. Ofcourse India will ban it.

Next will be zoom why there is JioMeet. Can anyone find 5 differences between JioMeet and Zoom app.

With the recent killing of 20 Indian soldiers, conventionally India would’ve responded militarily. Though the reality is India can’t afford a military conflict with the much more powerful China. Thus banning the apps is a good response. You kill our 20 people and alter boundaries, we cut off your businesses from our markets at the very least.

None of these apps are essential or especially unique so they'll be replaced by some local clone few weeks later. Funnily enough that's exactly how it works in China itself — they ban stuff and then replace with local clones which sometimes end up being even better than original except for the spyware bloat.

I am thinking why does China ban Google, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube ? What are they afraid of ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

Evidence suggests Modi regime was receiving Chinese donations for many years;

Recently TikTok donated 30 crore rupees to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PM_CARES_Fund

Will Modi regime return these funds ?

This is going to empower startups in India. To create things in India. Every country needs to go product route. Create more than consumption. we will get variety as well as fosters creativity. One thing for sure empowering startup culture is a game changer for india IMO

Clash of Kings? That online game? Why?

Clash of Kings is owned by a Chinese company called Elex-Tech aka "Beijing ELEX Technology Co". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash_of_Kings

Not to be confused with the more popular "Clash of Clans" which is owned by a Finnish company https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash_of_Clans

That Finnish company is now owned by a Chinese company.

Ha, you're right Supercell is 81.4% owned by Tencent. It's hard to keep up these days.

Classic Pied Piper China

It's funny looking at the responses bashing India's decision here. With the current geo-political climate, and China pretty much swallowing up and controlling all of India's neighbours - Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, I'd say this decision is long overdue.

In more recent months, China's military has become increasingly aggressive against India and in the South China Sea, and they've just recently passed a draconian 'national security' law in Hong Kong which pretty much allows them unlimited control over the territory.

With this in mind, China is starting to look like a grave threat to the peace and stability of Asia and beyond (apropos their recently influencing the elections in Kiribati and having a puppet leader installed).

India welcoming Chinese made software is like the US deploying Iranian or North Korean origin software. Tell me how that works out.

I've been passively thinking about this recently. Is there any pathway for individual users to (effectively) do the same for their devices or network, or both? Is IP blocking via hosts or otherwise still effective enough to be useful?

For networks, a Raspberry pi with pihole would be great starting step that still works

Absolutely right decision. There are no private companies in China, all of the corporate entities directly or indirectly depend on CCP, which uses every opportunity to damage national security of enemies.

I am not sure when and how this ban will take into effect because right now it is still available for download in playstore. So it seems to be more of a strategic move in response to the border issues.

It would be interesting to see Tiktok's usage chart today

This comment might be too meta/off topic but..

This thread is hilarious. You have people spamming the same link over and over again and not be greyed out, but if you look into their comment history you'll find dead comments with such controversial opinions as "spice was lucrative during the age of sail" and "Vegan Italian food is possible". HNers are a mercurial lot.

I'm looking forward to see the reactions of HN once similar bans get enacted closer to home. The free speech and free market absolutists have been silent so far, let's see how long they can maintain the cognitive dissonance.

Sad to see India degenerating into nationalism and populism.

I feel like this could be said for the rest of the world as well

Why does China ban Google, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube ? Why ? What are they afraid of ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...

There's an active border dispute currently going on between India and China. Probably equivalent to early movement of a pawn in a game of chess.

China bans far more stuff, anyone questioning India doesn't realise what China bans.

TikTok and a lot of some Chinese apps are seriously untrustworthy

It was brewing for a while. I am surprised that so many apps got b&. I was sure weChat and TikTok were gonna get axed but not others

> "b&"


Yeah, I'm sure this has nothing to do with them killing Indian soldiers. it's sad how this is more bigger news than that.

That's pretty fair seeing that China bans a lot of content/apps/sites that is not produced in China.

With recent developments, even during covid we can see that trump visit is paying off. And India is officially trump ally.

If China can ban websites and apps (for whatever reasons), why can't India?

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Are any of you afraid it'll happen to your app? today its China tomorrow it could be another country

Any of you afraid that the once unconceivable WWIII is gradually become possible because of the irresponsible politician trying to mitigate their own misconduct/misjudgement by instigating hate and xenophobia.

But it won‘t.

The public health toll of social media will not be fully understood for another 30 years it seems.

People with adolescents and teen daughters please chime in here. The rates of suicide, cutting, and psychological problems are climbing. My wife and I find a charity that offers counseling and therapy to young girls. What is common place now was nearly unheard of in my generation (X).

Just because it was “unheard” of didn’t mean it wasn’t happening in GenX. I don’t know if there’s a way to ever fully compare them but there are panics that accompany every new medium of communication.

Did the ban go through court process or its imposed by ruling party decision ?

Finally Chinese companies know the feeling of being banned in another country.

How long will it take China to rebrand these apps under a different name ?

A one billion market loss

What about Chinese phones and their customised Android?

Lot of countries are banning Chinese 5G hardware for the same reasons. Trump also issued ban on mobile device makes like ZTE etc for the same reason.

Good on India. They're smarter than we are.

InShot is missing.

Resso is missing

I rather look at this from a rational pov then moral grandstand from one soap box or another, since I have no dog in this fight.

My thinking is, this would be a good casus belli for India if they have the national ability to develop home grown alternatives.

If you look at the evolution of the Chinese market, one of the key reasons China was able to develop a vast and independent internet ecosystem was its ability to ban the U.S. based groups such as Youtube, Google, facebook all at select political moments. Had the Chinese never done this, there is no way its domestic eco-system would have developed the way it has. At best foreign firms would own a substantial minority share, instead the Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent were able to consolidate monopolistic positions at home and then use that as a base to expand outwards into SEA, India and other developing markets, thereby challenging what would otherwise be a U.S. based monopoly on leading information technology.

From a nation building and state capitalist perspective it was actually quite a smart move. At the time, the western content providers were all banned at one point or another based on individual political reasons (Google hacking, arab spring..etc) and while there were political reasons to do so (censor and control the discourse of Chinese popular opinion) there was vast economic benefits down the road. I am sure the high level thinking in policy making in China recognize this "two birds with one stone" aspect.

I suspect India would like to do something similar. Right now the "foreign barbarians" in India are not the technologically more advance American firms like in China's days in the 90's. It's cash rich and state backed Chinese firms (Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, Douyin, and the like).

So seizing this as a good excuse to maybe not outright ban (we don't know if the TikTok ban won't be reversed at a later time) but even to throttle and restrict them in the domestic Indian market, provided there are domestic alternatives that can built up would be a good move 10-20 years down the road. Or even better, use the opportunity to shake down and force more technology transfer from the Chinese firms in return for market access. India like China has a sufficiently large population and thereby potential domestic market to pursue this strategy.

I'm absolutely against banning things but TikTok should be banned until we figure out how to protect ourselves from bad actors like the CCP.

I'm not sure that "absolutely" is the right word for you here.

I don't see how Chinese apps are somehow bad, while the equivalent American apps are not bad. That's being naive.

The US should at least consider banning TikTok for its predatory practices as well as other apps on its level posthaste.

Please ban them in US too. WeChat in particular is used to train their censorship AI engine.

yeah, block apps when you can't win a war.

Your move Apple.

The Chinese government moved in martial artists and elite alpine troops to the area. Shortly there after, a number of unarmed Indian soldiers end up dead in the same area.


This is small potatoes compared to the concentration camps and genocide and ethic cleansing being forced on Tibet and East Turkistan (what CCP calls Xinjiang). Or to the forced harvesting of organs from living political dissidents.


What will it take?

I read through the tribunal report expecting some sort of evidence, instead it uses guestimates to arrive at numbers for transplant volume then says there's no possible way the organs could've come from volunteers due to that volume. China has 4 times the population of the US, and right about 4 times the amount of transplants claimed in the report.

does banning these apps do any good for the Indian Government? It just like taking revenge on Chinese companies rather than china gov.

US should’ve done this months ago.

mega censorship!

like this kind of bans so I know with Apps are good. haha.

god bless

I am really amazed to read so many people talking of chinese companies as the greatest threat for our privacy as opposed to american tech companies, do you guys even read the news or just Trump's Twitter account? This is not about the US or China, they are part of this game but (illegally) harvesting data is a global trend that most likely includes you and the company you're working for. Do you want to change the world? Challenge your boss on the information you collect on your users and the practices you use to facilitate them being tracked instead of fighting China 24/7 on the internet, be smarter than a 20-lines-of-code bot, please.

You'd imagine the Chinese communists would be smarter having been in business for 50 years now. But when pushed into a corner on taking the responsibility for the deadly virus, all they can think of is grabbing land and starting wars with their unfortunate neighbors. But better sooner than later. Now you know that when the dragon becomes a super power, it will be nasty, petty, manipulative, bloody, totalitarian & downright ugly. American capitalism propped up CCP. But CCP covets land and power more than money. And they'd rather go to war with their neighbors than accept that they were responsible for the breakout and the spread. The only fault of TikTok, just like that of Huawei and every other Chinese company is that their ultimate masters is the CCP. And yes that's enough reason to ban them.

People seem to be missing the point that Chinese Apps are literally spying on their users. iOS just released a patch to keep TikTok from scraping users' clipboards.

All other democratic countries should join India in banning Chinese apps

Don’t allow Chinese apps until they open their own market to freely allow foreign apps like Google, Facebook, Youtube etc to function

I wonder if/how China will use the tiktok data when all these teens are adults.

Here in the USA, Android phones with pre-installed Chinese malware and unremovable rootkit (fota/Over-the-air firmware update app) is given out to our most vulnerable citizens and disabled veterans through the government assistance “Lifeline” program.


Free societies should be completely isolated from societies without remotely the same liberties, human rights or sense of ethics.

If you make money off a country because it permits its workers to be enslaved and paid a pittance, you both support the ongoing enslavement AND reward the leaders of that country. This is a devils' tradeoff.

I think this is a good move. With China banning apps from other countries, its right for India to do. We should be doing the same thing in the US

China moved into Indian territory and has killed 20 Indian soldiers and this is how India is retaliating. The prime minister is not even mentioning China in his speeches or tweets. This has been a disaster for our country.

Don't worry, apparently India has "snapped the necks of at least 18 PLA"


swarajya mag is not a news source. They're blatantly biased.

Also this news is not confirmed. Just speculation which is enough to make the public feel good.

This is super late, but if you see this - care to clarify what the bias is?

This should have been done a long time ago. Chinese services have an unrestricted access to their local user base + users of the whole world, while services from any other countries might easily be blocked in China for one reason or another, thus reducing their potential user base by several hundred million of users. Even without the sinister political reasons behind the censorship by the CCP it would be an unfair competition.

Considering the recent crisis that's brewing between the two, it's a rational move for India to not let China get more intelligence data so easily.

From a humanitarian point of view, everyone in the world should uninstall these apps as they help collecting data for censorship in China [1].

Also, apart from being a spyware, TikTok is simply a dangerous app which brings much harm to society [2].

[1] - https://citizenlab.ca/2020/05/we-chat-they-watch/

[2] - https://nypost.com/2020/02/13/the-dumb-dangerous-challenges-....

Is it me or does this domain fail to resolve via cloudflare?

[user@host tmp]$ nslookup pib.gov.in Server: Address:

Non-authoritative answer: Name: pib.gov.in Address:

[user@host tmp]$ nslookup pib.gov.in Server: Address:

server can't find pib.gov.in: SERVFAIL

Interestingly even before this ban, there has been a movement (at least by armchair critics in Social Media) to uninstall Chinese apps. People started installing this unknown app "Remove china apps" to get rid of the apps that Chinese phone makers like Xiomi does not let you remove.

People started removing Chinese apps not because of national security but because they thought it would stop boosting Chinese economy which in turn will come as defense budget

Bigger question is how do you stop the market penetration of mobiles like Oppo/Vivo/Xiomi etc and all the Startups like Ola/Flipkart which is backed by Chinese investment.


That "Remove China" app was also removed from Google Play: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/remove-china-apps-google-...

Am I the only one concerned about how TikTok is promoting child pornography by serving as a gateway for young girls and boys to prostitution apps such as OnlyFans?

I think this is a bigger concern than loss of privacy.

Those comparing loss of privacy for Indians on US apps / platforms compared to Chinese apps / platforms, China and India are openly hostile.

US and India are not. This is a big difference.

I wouldn’t compare onlyfans to prostitution, it’s not the same as going out on the street. If anything it’s empowering.

Not for a 9 yr old.

I guess we should ban all adult apps and services. Think of the children.

From the page: "At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country. The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures."

Thank you, India, for keeping national security first. Hoping it is for the long haul and the decision should not change in a meeting.

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