India’s government reportedly proposed new security laws requiring smartphone manufacturers to allow for the removal of pre-installed apps and mandated screening of OS updates, due to concerns around spying and abuse of user data.
Reuters reports a government document outlining the plan could impact manufacturers including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo by extending the time taken to launch new devices in India, along with reducing revenue from pre-installed apps.
An unnamed senior government official told Reuters it is targeting pre-installed apps as they could be “a weak security point” and wanted to ensure “no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it”.
Under the proposed rules, smartphone companies will be required to provide an uninstall option and new devices will be checked for compliance by a laboratory authorised by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
A source said India is also exploring screening of major OS updates through the laboratory before they are rolled out to consumers.
India’s proposed move follows steps by European Union to rein in technology giants in July 2022, when it passed the Digital Services Act to allow users to remove pre-installed software or apps.
However, India’s laws would differ in the fact it plans to implement an actual screening mechanism for compliance which could severely affect approval timelines for new smartphones.
If the plan is enacted, smartphone makers will be given a year to comply.