India has banned Google Play from the country, with officials saying the app has been used to lure people into buying drugs, and is used by criminals and terrorists to track users and monitor them.
The move comes after the Indian government accused Google of facilitating the production and sale of illegal drugs by allowing it to sell the apps, which are essentially apps designed to bypass security measures to facilitate illicit activity, the Press Trust of India reported on Thursday.
India’s Digital Economy Act, 2016 says that the country must stop allowing Google Play to be used for criminal activities and to be part of a criminal network, including by using it to create and distribute apps that “create or facilitate the commission of offences, or assist or abet in such commission”.
It also bans Google from offering products or services that “provide or encourage access to unlawful goods or services, including those created or distributed by, or for, the benefit of, any person”.
The government said it would take action if Google did not comply.
“We have taken the decision that Google Play is illegal for all purposes, including illegal use of the app, in the country,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement on Thursday, adding that it will be blocked in the coming days.
“The Government of India will not allow the app to be sold in India.”
The government has said it is seeking a report from Google on whether the app “has the capacity to provide illegal content, including content that is dangerous or potentially harmful, and if so, how such content is made available”.
The Prime Minister said the government is also considering the removal of any content that “is dangerous or can be harmful” and has directed the Department of Electronics and Information Technology to review the content.
“Google has no legal right to sell illegal content,” Mr Modi said.
The government says Google has not yet replied to a request for comment.
India has a thriving app ecosystem, with the country having over 200 million apps available for download and more than 100 million active users.
India bans ‘crowd-funding’ apps from being used to fund illegal activitiesBut Google says it will comply with the government’s ban and is offering a trial version of the “Climbing to the Top” app, which can be downloaded for free, in India for six to nine months.
It is not clear what the trial version will be like or how many people will be eligible to try it out.
Google did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the government ban.