If reports are to be believed, the Indian government plans to crack down on smartphone makers to ensure phones sold in the country do not spy on its citizens.
The move to ensure the privacy and security of Indian data could lead government agencies to test all smartphones and apps installed on them before giving them the green light. Agencies can also request source codes for software used on these devices, the ET report says.
The biggest impact of this decision will be on Chinese smartphone makers, including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, Vivo, Tecno, Inifinix, etc. These combined companies account for the lion’s share of the total smartphones sold in the country.
A range of government agencies, including MeitY, the National Technical Research Organization, among others, are part of the group exploring the possibilities of drafting a law that enforces this dismantling. This review will not be limited to inspecting the hardware and source code, but smartphone makers will be asked to share the materials bill and will also ensure that preinstalled apps can be removed on the user side.
Retaliation for the Chinese border aggression?
While this decision is now known, it may however be linked to the ongoing border struggle between China and India. As a reminder, the Indian government has already banned more than 200 Chinese apps last year, including popular apps like TikTok and PubG.
Smartphone makers were also urged last year to stop pre-installing such apps on their devices, after which Xiaomi confirmed that it would create a new version on MIUI to comply with the new rulings.
Such a decision or limitation at the time could have negatively impacted the market as alternatives to these Chinese apps were quickly available, however, replacing Chinese smartphones is almost impossible.
Some time ago, the government also updated its policies regarding companies allowed to sell telecommunications equipment in the country. The move again targeted Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE and had telecommunications test equipment before it was sold in the country. The telecommunications department has reportedly created a list of “trusted brands” that will not have to go through this scrutiny.
At the time, smartphone makers were exempt from this ruling, however, the new ruling seeks to scrutinize them.
Will it only affect Chinese brands?
While the Indian government may want to target Chinese groups and be one of the hottest smartphone markets, it wants to show its authority, it will need to be cautious. First, he doesn’t want to deter brands from doing business in the country because apart from Apple and Samsung, the smartphone industry is dominated by Chinese players. However, he is keen to clarify that he is indeed serious about espionage and data security issues.
Second, singling out China could also violate international trade policies. One of the sources quoted by ET says that to counter this, the government could “put in place a special provision for companies from countries that share borders with India.”
The Indian government is of the opinion that Chinese brands need not worry and in case they are not involved in some shady business, these companies would welcome the decision to review smartphone hardware and software and other devices they sell in the country. .
That being said, given that most smartphone makers source components from Chinese companies, this new move may not offer any relaxation to brands like Samsung and others. However, global brands may be in a better position to earn brownie points.
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