Chinese free mobile messaging app, WeChat from Tencent has been working on its international expansion for quite some time. India has been one of the countries where the messaging app has worked quite closely in terms of introducing local features and boosting marketing initiatives. However, the efforts faced a roadblock when the Indian intelligence agency told the National Security Advisor that such messaging platforms were raising new cyber threats.
The matter is being taken seriously and sources say that it will be investigated by the Ministry of Home Affairs along with the Department of Telecom. The joint investigation will decide the fate of the messaging apps functioning in India.
Meanwhile Global Times has reported that they have received an email from Hu Chunnan, spokesperson of Tencent saying that,
“The messaging platform WeChat, as a product that Tencent provides to its overseas users, has always complied with all relevant local laws and regulations.”
Besides this Global Times has reported that an unnamed official from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has expressed that since the matter is under investigation, it would be premature to state whether WeChat would face a ban in India.
The matter comes into highlight post Prism revelations made by the Guardian. In what could be the biggest story of the year, Guardian recently revealed that the National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants. It was also reported that the NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats.
Social messaging apps have been a worry for India since a while now. Initially it was Blackberry’s BBM service which started facing the heat from 2010 by the Indian Government, which settled after Blackberry agreed to set up a local server in Mumbai. Later we saw the case with WhatsApp where the Securities and Exchange Board of India SEBI had found out that WhatsApp was being increasingly used to spread sensitive market related information to influence certain stocks. The regulator has been seriously looking to tackle the problem.
However, what is interesting is that such measures are not being followed for WhatsApp, Hike which are some of the other popular messaging apps in India. Is this a genuine concern or is the Chinese app creating too much of competition for the local market?
Image courtesy: WeChat India Facebook