India may Remove pre-installed apps, Know Why?
Is the Govt planning to Track your Phone by removing pre-installed apps?
The government has debunked a news report from Reuters claiming that it plans to force smartphone makers to allow the removal of pre-installed apps and mandate screening of major updates under the new security rules.
A report titled, ‘India plans new security testing for smartphones, a crackdown on pre-installed apps’, had said that the proposed rules could extend launch timelines in the world’s second-largest smartphone market ‘if implemented’.
The report also added that “the Indian IT ministry is considering such rules due to security concerns about spying and abuse of user data by Chinese software agencies,” according to the information by an unnamed senior government official.
“Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it. It’s a matter of national security,” the report quoted the official as saying.
Reacting to the report, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the “story is plain wrong”.
This story is plain wrong – there is no "security testing" or "crackdown" as story suggests.
Story is based on lack of understanding perhaps n unfettered creative imagination that is based an ongoing consultation process btwn Ministry n Industry on mobile https://t.co/V0G1RRZLJP… https://t.co/aoQjJEr7Ed
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) March 15, 2023
“This story is plain wrong – there is no ‘security testing’ or ‘crackdown’ as the story suggests. The story is based on lack of understanding perhaps an unfettered creative imagination that is based on an ongoing consultation process between Ministry and Industry on mobile security guidelines of BIS Standard IS17737 (Part-3) 2021,” he tweeted.
The IT minister also stressed that it is focused on ramping up electronics manufacturing in the country.
“@GoI_MeitY is 100% committed to Ease of doing Business n is totally focussed on growing Electronics Mfg to touch USD 300Bln by 2026,” he said.
Retweeting the minister’s post, the fact-checking team of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said the news report is “misleading”.
A report by @Reuters claims 'India plans new security testing for smartphones, a crackdown on pre-installed apps.'#PIBFactCheck
▶️This report is misleading
▶️As explained by the Union Minister @Rajeev_GoI ongoing consultation on mobile security guidelines is misrepresented https://t.co/SSLo3BwLUk pic.twitter.com/KvSTM7vPno
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) March 15, 2023
“As explained by the Union Minister @Rajeev_GoI ongoing consultation on mobile security guidelines is misrepresented,” it said.
India stepped up scrutiny of Chinese apps and banned several of them which were found illegal and potential threat, including the extremely popular app TikTok, amid tension with China on the northern border.
The first ban was executed in 2020 shortly after the Galwan Valley clash, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
However, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is the India’s Union minister for state for IT said that there is no “security testing” or “crackdown” as story suggests and the news was “plain wrong”.
In a post on Twitter, he also added that there was an ongoing consultation between the government and the industry, but he did not elaborate much.
CHINESE MANUFACTURERS MAKE OVER HALF OF ALL SMARTPHONE SALES IN INDIA
The plan for new rules, for which the details have not been reported earlier, could extend launch timelines in the world’s No.2 smartphone market and lead to losses in business from pre-installed apps for brands including Xiaomi (1810.HK), Samsung (005930.KS), Vivo, and Apple (AAPL.O).
The IT ministry (India) is considering these rules amid concerns about spying and abuse of user data, according to a government official, one of the two people who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity as the information is not yet public.
“Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it. It’s a matter of national security,” the official added.
Chinese manufacturers account for more than half of all smartphone sales in India.
MANY NATIONS HAVE IMPOSED RESTRICTIONS
Worldwide too, there are many other nations as well that have imposed restrictions on the use of technology from Chinese firms like Hikvision (002415.SZ), and Huawei (HWT.UL) on fears that Beijing could use them to spy on foreign citizens. However, China denied these allegations.
Currently, the majority of smartphones come with pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted, like Chinese smartphone maker Samsung’s payment app Samsung Pay mini, Xiaomi’s app store GetApps, and iPhone maker Apple’s browser Safari.
Under the new rules, smartphone makers will have to offer an uninstall option and new models will be checked for compliance by a lab authorized by the Bureau of Indian Standards agency, the two people (source), associated with this issue and knowledge of the plan, informed.
The government is also planning to consider mandating screening of every major operating system update before it is rolled out to consumers, the source added.
Reuters was the first to report the deliberations on Tuesday.
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