Splainer

Thursday, September 3 2020


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Who are not, but could be / Who don't speak languages, but dialects / Who don't have religions, but superstitions / Who don't create art, but handicrafts / Who don't have culture, but folklore / Who are not human beings, but human resources / Who do not have faces, but arms / Who do not have names, but numbers / Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police blotter of the local paper / The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.

That’s a passage from Eduardo Galeano’s 1989 poem 'Los Nadies' (The Nobodies). We quote it to mark the birthday of a legendary writer, journalist and poet—and also to acknowledge how searingly apt it remains today. Illustration: Parth Savla

Big Story

The PubG ban: The beginning of the end?

The TLDR: The government banned a new list of 118 Chinese apps—including the greatly beloved PubG, which had escaped the axe the first time around. The latest ‘digital strike’—as BJP leaders like to describe it—comes once again in the midst of increasing border tensions with China. When TikTok was banned in June, there was a sense that Sino-Indian relations may have hit a temporary icy patch. But the government’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric may point to something more serious. A new cold war perhaps? If so, there’s a lot more at stake than just a fun app. 

 

Tell me about the ban

The ban: According to a statement put out by the Information & Technology Ministry, the “malicious apps” have been banned because they “collect and share data in surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the State”—and are therefore “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” 

 

Point to note: Much like TikTok, this is likely an interim order under TKTK—which allows the government to issue a temporary ban by citing national security.  But in order to challenge the ban, the companies bear the burden of proving they have not committed any of the alleged crimes. And that’s why a number of internet freedom activists are unhappy:

 

“There is little in terms of evidence on how these apps are threatening the sovereignty, integrity, and defence of India… Arbitrary government power has been exercised here. Remember if today Chinese apps can be banned, tomorrow nothing stops them from banning Indian apps in a similar non-transparent manner.”


Goodbye PubG

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • John Boyega rips Disney apart
  • Sexual harassment at Times Group
  • Yes, Alexei Navalny was poisoned!
  • Climate change will be harder on India
  • Our heroine of the day

 

Reading Habit

  • The Book Addict’s Quiz with Sandip Roy

 

Smart And Curious

  • We’ve misunderstood and misused the phrase ‘pathological liar’
  • Seven feedback loops that sustain climate change
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