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India may have ‘bad’ news for smartphone makers

The Indian government is considering the implementation of new security rules that would require smartphone manufacturers to allow users to uninstall pre-installed apps, as per a news agency report. The report, which cites two sources and government documents, suggests that India is likely to propose these regulations soon, and also mandate the screening of significant operating system updates.


A senior government official, one of two individuals who declined to be named as the information is not yet public, stated that India’s IT Ministry is contemplating these new rules due to concern about spying and abuse of user data, according to the report. According to officials, “Pre-installed applications can pose a security vulnerability and it is crucial to prevent any foreign nations, including China, from exploiting it, as it is a significant national security concern.


The world's No. 2 smartphone market could face extended launch timelines and players including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo could suffer losses in business from pre-installed apps due to the new regulations. However, official details of the new rules are not known yet. Currently, many smartphones are sold with pre-installed applications that are impossible to remove. Some examples include the Apple Safari browser, Samsung's payment app Samsung Pay and Xiaomi's app store GetApps. 


Under the unofficial proposed regulations, smartphone manufacturers will be required to provide users with the ability to uninstall such applications. Additionally, a lab authorized by the Bureau of Indian Standards agency will verify the compliance of new smartphone models with these regulations. This information comes from two sources who are familiar with the plan. One source said to a news agency, the government is also considering mandating screening of every major operating system (OS) update before it is rolled out to consumers. 


In the context of security concerns, India has already banned more than 300 Chinese apps, including TikTok, ramping up scrutiny of Chinese businesses since a 2020 LAC clash between the neighbours. It has worked as a catalyst for intensified scrutiny of investment by Chinese firms. Many countries have reservations about pre-installed apps. India is not alone in this league that demands that smartphone makers allow the removal of pre-installed apps. 

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