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Minister rejects report claiming ‘India planning security testing for smartphones’

The government has debunked a news report claiming that it plans to force smartphone makers to allow removal of pre-installed apps and mandate screening of major updates under the new security rules.

A Reuters report, titled ‘India plans new security testing for smartphones, crackdown on pre-installed apps’, had said that the proposed rules, if implemented, could extend launch timelines in the world’s second-largest smartphone market.

The report said that the IT ministry is considering these rules amid concerns about spying and abuse of user data and attributed the information to an unnamed senior government official.

“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 report quoted the official as saying.

Reacting to the report, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the “story is plain wrong”.

“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,” he tweeted.

The minister stressed that it is focused on ramping up electronics manufacturing in the country.

“@GoI_MeitY is 100% committed to Ease of doing Business n is totally focussed on growing Electronics Mfg to touch USD 300Bln by 2026,” he said.

Retweeting the minister’s post, the fact-checking team of Press Information Bureau (PIB) said the news report is “misleading”.

“As explained by the Union Minister @Rajeev_GoI ongoing consultation on mobile security guidelines is misrepresented,” it said.

Amid tension with China on the northern border, India stepped up scrutiny of Chinese apps and banned many of them, including the very popular TikTok.

The first round of ban came into force shortly after the Galwan Valley clash in 2020, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead. NDTV

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