After India, US and Australia mulling action against Chinese mobile apps
India took action as it could not allow a situation where its openness is used against its sovereign interests and public security
After India banned Chinese apps, including TikTok on the ground that they could be a threat to India’s security, Australia and the US are mulling actions against Chinese mobile apps.
Some see such Indian actions as healthy precedent for other democracies, while others have criticized the move, expressing concern about nation states fracturing and shrinking the internet, which could lead eventually to note one universal internet, but several splinternets, writes Arvind Gupta, an expert in data and digital economy in Washington Post.
“But this isn’t what India is trying to do. India believes in an open and neutral Internet and supports multistakeholderism. But it cannot allow a situation where its openness is used against its sovereign interests and public security, undermining both citizens’ rights and democratic values,” he writes
He says China uses a ‘Walled Garden’ approach which means that it does not let global platforms to enter internet space while on the other hand continues to manipulate the information disseminated across the world by using disinformation, influence ops and information warfare as its weapons.
But he maintains that the internet revolution brought about a new life in the world.
From Pentagon defense labs in the 1960s to a ubiquitous presence in everyday mobile phones, the Internet today enables more than half the human population to harness creativity, entrepreneurship and energy to change their lives. In the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, the potential of digital platforms have increased manifold.
Devices and online services have helped in mobile medicine, critical care and remote education, and enabled supply chains. Social media platforms also form the backbone for digitalization of our democracies, allowing for greater freedom of expression, citizen engagement and participative governance. All of this could well describe India’s Internet experience.
“However, the very tools that empower also have the potential to inhibit — mainly, by creating a semipermeable membrane that allows selective passage of information. The risk expands when the rules of this membrane are set by the arbitrariness of algorithms of state-sponsored platforms or dictated by the state of origin,” he writes.