New Delhi, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- Google has removed an Indian mobile phone application from its online store because it violated company policies by helping users identify and remove Chinese apps from their smartphones.
The “Remove China Apps” had become a popular free app on Google’s Play Store and had attracted over five million downloads within days of its launch in late May.
Before it was removed earlier this week, the app was trending on the mobile app store amid calls for a boycott of Chinese products in India as the two countries remain locked in a border dispute in the northern region of Ladakh.
A Google spokesperson told Indian broadcaster NDTV’s Gadget360 online portal that the Indian application was removed because it violated the company’s Deceptive Behavior policy.
The policy among other things doesn’t allow apps “that mislead users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features”.
The developers of the app, Onetouch AppLabs based in the western city of Jaipur, also confirmed on Wednesday that “Google has removed ‘Remove China Apps’ from Play Store.”
They claimed that it was developed for “educational purposes,” only to identify the country of origin of certain applications.
“We do not promote or force people to uninstall any of the applications,” they said, adding that detecting the country of origin was based on the market research.
The app allowed Android users to scan their phones and list all the Chinese-origin installed apps. It would then give them a delete option next to every app for un-installation.
Google earlier pulled down another Indian app, the Mitron, which was a clone of TikTok. Mitron was also getting popular in the country riding high on anti-China sentiment and drawing hundreds of thousands of downloads.
The development comes amid rising anti-China sentiment over the border dispute and the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent survey by the Takshashila Institution, an independent think-tank, found that a significant majority of Indians believe that China’s “opacity and mismanagement of the outbreak of Covid-19 is to blame for the global pandemic”.
“Around 67 percent (of respondents), believe that (China) is to blame for the outbreak becoming a global pandemic,” the survey said.
A breakdown of this figure shows that 18.2 percent believe that pandemic is an outcome of China’s “bio-warfare.”
“This, in particular, is indicative of not just public anger but also the effectiveness of online disinformation campaigns. In comparison, only 14.5 percent believe other governments are at fault for their lack of preparedness,” according to the survey. EFE-EPA