Google takes down app that removes Chinese software

Ruben Fields
June 6, 2020

India's most popular free app on Google's mobile app store, with over 5 million downloads since the end of May, is called "Remove Apps from China" and does exactly what the label says.

Google had to disconnect and remove the app from the store TechCrunch reports. It does, however, disclose online what information it collects from users, including one's device model, the language set for the device system, the device manufacturer and app-specific information such as the version code of apps, the version name of apps, and the package name of apps.

The app is straightforward to use: Click scan and it will either congratulates one on having no Chinese apps or displays a list of those that are determined to be of Chinese origin - like TikTok.

The Remove China Apps developed by Jaipur based startup OneTouchAppLabs took to Twitter to confirm the removal of the app from Google Play Store.

"This fact did not escape the Chinese state-run Global Times that reported Tuesday that some users in China ridiculed the RCA app, urging Indians to" throw away" their telephones.

The move is the latest episode in the escalating China vs. India battle that included skirmishes in the northeast boundary a few weeks ago.

A Google spokesman confirmed to Reuters the app had been removed due to violation of app store policies, but gave no further details.

In our own testing, the app seems to have some major gaps in what it considers a Chinese app.

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Before Remove China Apps, the so-called TikTok rival Mitron was taken down from Google Play Store.

Anti-Chinese sentiment has been rising in India in recent weeks as the two countries feud over a border dispute.

The objective of the "Remove China App" was to remove Chinese (Third Party) apps from users' mobile phones, hence it violated Google's policy.

The app did identify TikTok as a Chinese app, according to several reviews.

Smartphones also have manufacturing hubs in China with many assembling units in India.

Indian engineer Sonam Wangchuk posted a video on YouTube suggesting that Indians should boycott everything Chinese - which has had two million views to date.

This isn't the first app to raise privacy alarms but for an app claimed to have been downloaded by more than 1 million users in space of 10 days, the limelight it has caught was obvious. But mobile payments app Alipay, ByteDance's short video platform TikTok, and the Tencent-made game PUBG Mobile were also installed on the phone - and went unnoticed. According to reports from IDC and Counterpoint, four of the five biggest smartphone brands in India are Chinese.

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