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India mulls WeChat ban citing fears over security

By Rajiv Theodore in Delhi and Li Xiang in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-18 0:13:01

The messaging platform WeChat, as a product that Tencent provides to its overseas users, has always complied with all relevant local laws and regulations, the service's operator Tencent said in an e-mail sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The reply by Hu Chunnan, spokesperson of the company, came after a report by the India-based Economic Times on Thursday quoting the country's Intelligence Bureau as saying that a ban on the mobile messenger has been proposed for the sake of national security.

The National Security Advisor has been notified by the bureau that the proliferation of such messaging services is raising new cyber threats, the Economic Times reported.

An unnamed official from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs told the Global Times Monday that the matter will be reviewed before a final decision is taken on whether or not to block access to such services.

"But it is too premature to say whether this application will be banned," the official said.

Like WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger, WeChat, which recently launched its India operations, is a platform that relies on the Internet to allow users to exchange text, pictures or voice messages.

Indian officials contacted by the Global Times on Monday are worried that China could use the services and equipment to snoop into India's communication networks.

"Whenever Chinese telecommunications companies come into the fray in India, there is always a bit of controversy following it," said an official with India's Department of Telecom who declined to be identified.

Another unnamed official from India's Department of Commerce said there were concerns about Chinese competition in the market.

Indian authorities earlier raised concerns over BlackBerry Messenger, which have been resolved after the company agreed to set up a server in Mumbai.

The agencies have since been given access to data.

Liu Sha contributed to this story

Posted in: Business, Central & South Asia