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India proposes crackdown on phone bloatware and OS screening

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India is planning to enforce a rule where the phone manufacturers will have to provide an option to remove the pre-installed apps from the device. The Government of India (GoI) is also preparing a plan to screen major operating system updates under a proposed new security law.

These new rules by the IT ministry could delay the launch of new phones as these rules will extend the timelines by a considerable margin. This could affect the Indian smartphone market, which is currently at 144 million shipments.

After the Galwan incident, India reacted proactively and banned several applications including TikTok. Earlier, in February, India banned another set of betting and loan apps.

A majority of smartphones used in India are having pre-installed apps and bloatware, which poses serious privacy/information security issue(s),” stated a confidential government record of an IT ministry meeting on February 8, as seen by Reuters. The memo was presented before the representatives of several phone makers such as Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple and Vivo.

Reuters also claims that the government has given a one-year time frame to the companies to comply with the norms.

As of now, several smartphone manufacturers load apps that cannot be deleted. For instance, Xiaomi’s GetApps or Samsung’s Samsung Pay mini. Under these new rules which are yet to be enforced, the phone manufacturers will have to provide options to the public so that we may uninstall that application.

Mandatory OS screening

Moreover, GoI is also planning a mandatory screening of every major OS update before companies can roll it out to consumers. This move has baffled industry experts as even the Europen Union does not have such strict controlling measures as of now.

It is yet unclear as to what will be the future implications of these two steps. However, industry executives are not thrilled by these laws as they will delay the launch. Furthermore, many apps like the camera are critical to the functioning of the device and should not be tampered with. Also, smartphone makers have monetisation agreements with several of these apps.

“It’s a massive hindrance to a company’s go-to market strategy,” an industry executive told Reuters.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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