Google deletes Indian app that deleted Chinese apps

Google has deleted an app from the Play Store that offered to delete Android software associated with China.

The app, created by Jaipur, India-based developer OneTouch AppLabs, purported to scan Android phones for any with links to China. It used market research to identify from a named list and would then offer users the chance to wipe them from the user’s phone. Demos found online showed it deleting TikTok, the popular messaging app owned by developer ByteDance, and UC Browser, developed by Alibaba-owned UCWeb. It also also reportedly deleted the app for the Zoom videoconferencing service, which the Munk School’s Citizen Lab revealed was sending encryption keys to servers.

After deleting the apps, it displayed the message “You are awesome”.

Why would someone develop an app that wipes another country’s software from a user’s smartphone? Ideology seems to be a key factor. The developer’s website described the app as a way to support Atm Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). Prime Minister Narenda Modi used the slogan in a televised address about COVID-19 in mid-May, during which he said that Indians had to “protect ourselves”.

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