India plans to increase smartphone security testing and take action against pre-installed apps

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India plans to increase smartphone security testing and take action against pre-installed apps

According to two persons and a government document seen by Reuters, India intends to require smartphone manufacturers to permit the removal of pre-installed apps and to screen significant operating system updates as part of planned new security measures.

The new regulations, the specifics of which have not yet been made public, may cause delays in product launches in the No. 2 smartphone market in the world and decrease pre-installed app revenue for players like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Apple.

One of the two persons, a senior government official, who not to be named because the information was not yet made public, said that India's IT ministry is exploring these new regulations in light of worries about espionage and the misuse of user data.

"We want to make sure that no other countries, particularly China, are taking advantage of pre-installed programmes because they can be a weak security point. The issue is one of national security "the representative stressed.

After a border dispute between the two neighbours in 2020, India has increased its surveillance of Chinese companies, banning more than 300 Chinese apps, including TikTok. Also, it has increased monitoring of Chinese company investments.

Many countries across the world have put limitations on using equipment made by Chinese companies like Huawei and Hikvision out of concern that Beijing would use it to spy on citizens of other countries. These claims are rejected by China.

Nowadays, the majority of smartphones come with pre-installed programmes that cannot be removed, like the web browser Safari from Apple and the payment tools Samsung Pay mini and GetApps from Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi.

According to two persons with knowledge of the proposal, the new regulations will require smartphone manufacturers to include an uninstall option and to have new models evaluated for compliance by a lab approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards agency.

One of the persons stated that the government is also thinking about making it mandatory to vet every significant operating system upgrade before it is released to users.

According to a confidential government document from a meeting of the IT ministry on February 8 that was seen by Reuters, the majority of cellphones used in India come with pre-installed apps and bloatware that pose substantial privacy and information security issues.

According to the meeting record, representatives from Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, and Vivo were present during the private conference.

The paper also stated that the government had made the decision to give smartphone manufacturers a year to comply once the law went into force (the exact date has not yet been determined).

An inquiry for comment from Reuters was not answered by the businesses or the Indian IT ministry.

(sonali )

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