India is drafting security regulations for smartphones that require screening of operating system updates, to prevent espionage from countries like China.
Proposed rules will allow users to remove pre-installed apps, according to officials and industry executives.
According to an Economic Times report, the Indian government aims to establish authorized labs, under the Bureau of Indian Standards agency, for screening handsets and operating systems updates, to ensure that devices and installed apps are not spying on citizens.
The security checks are expected to be implemented within a year from notification, as part of efforts to safeguard citizens' privacy.
These guidelines have been in development since late 2021, coinciding with strained Sino-Indo border relations.
The proposed measures are intended to bolster trust in technology and safeguard the privacy of Indian citizens.
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), along with other government bodies including the National Technical Research Organisation, is developing these new rules.
They are seeking input from industry stakeholders before finalizing the plan.
The government is concerned with the privacy and security risks posed by pre-installed applications in most smartphones, especially for foreign nations like China.
Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo — dominating over 70 per cent of the Indian smartphone market — are Chinese players targeted by this concern.
Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology, Rajeev Chandrashekhar today (15 March) clarified that the report on the matter by Reuters was misleading and there was no "crackdown" as reported.
Chandrashekhar tweeted, "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 security guidelines of BIS Standard IS17737 (Part-3) 2021.
MeitY is 100% committed to Ease of doing Business n is totally focussed on growing Electronics Mfg to touch USD 300Bn by 2026."
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