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‘Deliberate disinformation’: Govt of India denies Reuters’ report claiming new ‘security testing for smartphones’ and ‘crackdown on pre-installed apps’

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that the Reuters story is based on lack of understanding perhaps & an unfettered creative imagination that is based on an ongoing consultation process between the Ministry & Industry on mobile security guidelines of BIS Standard IS17737 (Part-3) 2021

On March 15, Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar debunked a Reuters report that suggested the Government of India was planning new security testing for smartphones. In a tweet quoting Reuters, Chandrasekhar said, “This story is plain wrong – there is no “security testing” or “crackdown” as story suggests.”

He added, “Story is based on lack of understanding perhaps & unfettered creative imagination that is based an ongoing consultation process between Ministry & Industry on mobile security guidelines of BIS Standard IS17737 (Part-3) 2021. Ministry of Information and Technology, Government of India, is 100% committed to Ease of doing Business n is totally focussed on growing Electronics Mfg to touch USD 300Bln by 2026.”

Calling it deliberate disinformation, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Kanchan Gupta, said, “This is deliberate disinformation by Reuters intended to negatively impact the mobile manufacturing sector in India. Ongoing consultation on mobile security guidelines of BIS Standard IS17737 (Part-3) 2021 has been misrepresented.”

In its exclusive report, Reuters claimed that India was planning to force smartphone makers to allow users to remove pre-installed apps. Furthermore, it claimed that the government was planning to mandate screening of major operating system updates under the new proposed security rules. Reuters cited two unnamed government officials in its report stating that the update’s information was yet to be public. The officer allegedly told Reuters, “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.”

Reuters claimed that the new move will delay the launch of new smartphones in India, and will cause losses in business from pre-installed apps for major players in the market like Samsung and Xiaomi.

Notably, Chinese manufacturers have almost half the smartphone market share in India. Several countries have imposed restrictions on companies like Huawei, Hikvision and others as it was suggested these companies were using their technology to spy on the nations. China, however, denied the allegations. It is notable that most foreign manufacturers, including the Chinese ones, make their phones in India for the Indian market, as most of them have established large manufacturing facilities in the country taking benefit of the Indian government’s incentive schemes.

There are several pre-installed apps on smartphones that users cannot delete, such as the GetApps app store by Xiaomi, Samsung Pay Mini, Safari browser by Apple and more. Reuters claimed in its report that it accessed a confidential document of the Government of India that stated, “Majority of smartphones used in India are having pre-installed Apps/Bloatware which poses serious privacy/information security issue(s)”. The agency further claimed Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, and Vivo met government officials in a closed-door meeting. The govt gave them one year to comply once “new rules come into effect”, the agency stated.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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