India may have a ‘bad’ news for Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and smartphone makers

India may have a ‘bad’ news for Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and smartphone makers

Tech News

The Indian government may soon force smartphone makers to allow users to remove pre-installed apps, a Reuters report says. Citing two people and government document seen by Reuters, the report says that India may soon propose new security rules, mandating screening of major operating system updates.

The report says that the India’s IT ministry is considering these new rules amid concerns about spying and abuse of user data, said a senior government official, one of the two people, declining to be named 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.

The new rules could extend launch timelines in the world’s No.2 smartphone market and lead to losses in business from pre-installed apps for players including Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Apple. Other details of the new rules are not known yet.

At present, most smartphones come with pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted. For example, Xiaomi’s app store GetApps, Samsung’s payment app Samsung Pay mini and iPhone maker Apple’s browser Safari.

Under the new rules, smartphone makers will have to provide an uninstall option and new models will be checked for compliance by a lab authorized by the Bureau of Indian Standards agency, two people with knowledge of the plan said.

The government is also considering mandating screening of every major operating system update before it is rolled out to consumers, one of the people said.

“Majority of smartphones used in India are having pre-installed Apps/Bloatware which poses serious privacy/information security issue(s),” stated a Feb. 8 confidential government record of an IT ministry meeting, seen by Reuters.

India has banned more than 300 Chinese apps, including TikTok, ramping up scrutiny of Chinese businesses since a 2020 border clash between the neighbours. It has also intensified scrutiny of investments by Chinese firms.

As per the report, the Indian government has decided to give smartphone makers a year to comply once the rule comes into effect. The date is yet to be finalised, the document added.

India will not be the only country to ask smartphone makers to allow removal of pre-installed apps. While European Union regulations require allowing removal of pre-installed apps, it does not have a screening mechanism to check for compliance like India is considering.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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