Ban Android in India, says country's Communications and IT Minister [Update]

Back in October 2011, following a rather tortured two-and-a-half-year development process that began with the promise of "$10 laptop", the Indian government proudly unveiled "the world's cheapest tablet", sold to students as the 'Aakash' for the equivalent of $35 USD, with a newer version of the device eventually being sold to consumers as the UbiSlate 7Ci. Launched with Android 2.2 Froyo, the Aakash boasted a 366MHz processor, 256MB of RAM and 2GB of onboard storage. 

Human Resources Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, was a keen proponent of the project, and he was the first government representative to show off a prototype of the device during its development in mid-2010. But despite implicitly endorsing Android through its inclusion in the Aakash, the Minister has apparently lost faith in the OS, according to a report from India's IBN Live

Sibal - now a Minister of two departments: Communications and Information Technology; and Law and Justice - has reportedly called for a ban on the Android OS in India, saying that the government is in favour of such a move. He is quoted as saying that phones developed on the Android platform are not suitable or safe for children, which has apparently prompted the call to banish the OS from within the country's borders. 

There are many unknowns here. It's unclear what evidence or suppositions Minister Sibal has used to inform his position that Android is unsuitable for minors. It's also curious that the Minister apparently supported Android during the development of the student-focused Aakash tablet, only to now denounce it as being improper for use by children.

The question of how the Indian government might practically impose such a ban is also unanswered. Even if it were implemented, it would not only affect OEMs importing devices into the country, such as Samsung and HTC, but also Indian handset makers, such as Micromax. It's possible that the threat of a domestic ban on Android handsets - which Micromax offers in considerable numbers in South Asia - was behind the company's commitment this week to launch Windows Phone handsets

Sibal is no stranger to controversy on matters of technology. In 2011, as The New York Times reported, he called on web giants such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to 'prescreen' content, removing all inflammatory or defamatory content, before making it available online for Indian users.

His attempts to outlaw "grossly offensive" comments online caught the attentions of global hacktivists Anonymous, who claimed credit for defacing his website in 2012, adding the following to his personal biography: "Born with a below-60 IQ, he thought he could mess with the Internet and let the elite of his party suppress freedom of speech."

Source: IBN Live (Hindi) via The Tech Monk | Image via Linux Journal


Update: It seems that IBN's report claiming that the Minister was seeking a ban on the Android OS may have been wide of the mark. DNA India states that Sibal's concerns focus specifically on adult content on the platform. The Minister claims that such content is widely available through Android handsets, saying: "I want all the media to come together and tell [me] how to deal with it so that if I do something about it, you don't attack me."

Google evidently disagrees with Sibal's take on things. A Google spokesperson stated: "Google Play developer programme policy does not allow content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. Google has a zero-tolerance policy against child pornography."

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39 Comments

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These Ministers are not caring for children's well being they must not have had their cut of bribe delivered to them yet.

apaliwal said,
These Ministers are not caring for children's well being they must not have had their cut of bribe delivered to them yet.

I'm sure the NSA and GCHB know who's been talking to him. :-P

With andriods being banned, it's a good opportunity for Nokia and other Windows Phone OEM's to take a jab at the market. Who knows Windows Phone might be number one in India if it's done right with affordable pricing for low income families.

i know he is an as*hole, i'm an indian and i'm in server support for most american companies. It is our ridiculous fate that he is in our gov. and talking **** all the time and trust me only because of these stupids some of you think all indians are the same. not defending anyone but our complete government especially SONIA GANDHI is a bi*ch.... just sayin

Xenomorph said,
Android is pretty disgusting.

More like a brilliantly thought out out project that halted iPhone monopoly, gave consumers more choice and allowed them to stay 'in touch' with others, while on the go, for less than $100! ...

Abdul Basit Suhail said,
it isnt the first time indian
so called tech experts made me laugh

Vishwa Bandhu Gupta Explains Cloud Computing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19JRD8IfjMc

check this out and it was on tv

Priceless! And his "explanation" of Cloud Computing isn't the worst in the interview...
To me seems he was being taught some of the concepts and faults of several technologies but he mixed up in his mind.

I hope it is not fake. It would be cool to go to India and look hardcore using my android phone makes it seam better and more naughty with it being banned

Sounds like the prime minister is an uneducated idiot. I have seen zero porn apps on Android from any app store. Thats not to stop someone from using a browser to find it tho. However, the same can be done on any other platform.

Must have taken a page from American politics. Preface every self interested move with "The children" or "Terrorism". I promise you the real motives here have little to do with children.

Totally false news. Its shocking that Neowin has posted this without any sort of verification. That hindi newspaper is totally false and so is the blog which got the news from it. Kapil Sibal wants adult content on Play Store removed. More Reputable Sources: http://www.nextbigwhat.com/kap...-adult-apps-on-android-297/ and http://www.dnaindia.com/scitec...content-on-google-s-android Indian Media sucks. They are known to twist facts and words as they find it suitable.

techbeck said,
I dont go looking for it either tho.

Right, thats what I use google.com for which you can access from any OS... Oh no, theys gonna ban teh internetz!

Draconian Guppy said,

Right, thats what I use google.com for which you can access from any OS... Oh no, theys gonna ban teh internetz!

True true.. It's funny looking at all the fuss about which cloud service, app or protocol, is supporting piracy, or allowing some subversive 'thing' to occur.

Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol

is where it's at!!

techbeck said,
If the rest of the world was as "bright" as India...we would be living the movie idiocracy.

Come on mate. Stop watching too many Bollywood movies.

techbeck said,
If the rest of the world was as "bright" as India...we would be living the movie idiocracy.

Hold on there... More like the US is idiocracy.
I have far too many extremely brilliant consultants working side by side with me who are from India. To think they'd be anywhere close to that movie is an insult to Indians in general and Michael Judge.

deadonthefloor said,

Hold on there... More like the US is idiocracy.
I have far too many extremely brilliant consultants working side by side with me who are from India. To think they'd be anywhere close to that movie is an insult to Indians in general and Michael Judge.

Didnt mean it as a insult to all India's citizens. More so the leaders. My apologies if I offended anyone. Below I made a comment about the Minister...just didnt clarify here.

siah1214 said,
Good news for Windows Phone

Why? Maybe because being the third ecosystem would be the third one to be put on the chop?.../S

Fritzly said,

Why? Maybe because being the third ecosystem would be the third one to be put on the chop?.../S

Nokia has a huge mindshare in India, by the way. It is definitely possible to crack that market.