World's second-largest smartphone market might see some significant changes in the coming future. According to a Reuters report, citing two sources and a government document, the Indian government is puportedly working on new security rules that would mandate testing of all major OS updates before rollout. It will also force manufacturers to allow removal of pre-installed apps from smartphones.
To recall, a similar move was previously played by the European Union where it asked device makers not to pre-load apps on new devices. However, India seems to go one step further by screening software updates.
As per the report, these security rules are being planned amid concerns about user data abuse and spying activities. "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," an unnamed official, who is one of the sources, told the publication.
Sources also revealed that as per the new rules, the Bureau of Indian Standards will authorize a lab(s) to vet new smartphones for compliance and device makers will have to provide an uninstall button for their apps.
Leaving security aside, pre-installed apps have been used by companies as a way to create a bubble around the users and make profits. Back in 2018, the EU imposed a $4 billion fine on Google for abusing its Android monopoly to beat rivals and paying big manufacturers to pre-install its apps.
A closed-door meeting also supposedly happened which was attended by representatives from Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, and Vivo. According to a document seen by Reuters, the government will give manufacturers one year to comply with the rules once they come into effect.
There are many pre-loaded apps that come along with smartphones these days. However, a distinction between essential and non-essential ones needs to be made, according to an industry executive. Another executive told the publication that the added testing could stretch approval times for smartphones which currently takes around 21 weeks and might create hurdles in a "company's go-to market strategy."