Reuters has reported that India aims to enforce new security regulations that would require major operating system updates to be screened and will compel smartphone manufacturers to permit the removal of pre-installed apps. The new rules could also apply to Samsung’s device lineup, given that the company pre-installs proprietary applications on its phones and tablets.
There is a high possibility that launching timelines for smartphones in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market, could be delayed due to the implementation of regulations that have yet to be disclosed. If this situation comes to pass, it will prove disadvantageous to the business prospects of Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple as pre-installed applications may become less prevalent.
India is mulling over regulations regarding surveillance and user data abuse
A confidential assembly record from the Indian Ministry of Information Technology, reviewed by Reuters on February 8, 2023, reported that the majority of smartphones used in India contain pre-installed applications/bloatware, which raise significant concerns associated with privacy and information security. Attendees of the meeting included delegates from Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, and Vivo.
India’s IT Ministry is contemplating potential regulations out of concern over espionage and mishandling of consumer data. This was revealed by a high-ranking government official, who briefed Reuters anonymously. “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 official asserted.
Ironically, Samsung allows the uninstallation of most of the company’s preloaded apps in China, so this is not new ground for the Korean giant. India’s Minister of State for Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, however, refuted the claim, labeling it “plain wrong.” He clarified that there is no security testing or crackdown taking place, only ongoing consultations with the industry. The minister did not provide any further information regarding the matter.
Notably, most smartphones now come preloaded with apps that cannot be removed. The Indian government is evaluating the need for mandatory testing of all major operating system updates before they are released to consumers, according to Reuters. This policy would require smartphone manufacturers to offer an uninstall option, and new models must be verified for compliance via evaluation in a laboratory authorized by the Bureau of Indian Standards, which could increase the time it takes for Samsung (and other) phones to hit retail shelves.