India is reportedly planning to introduce new rules and regulations that will require mobile phone manufacturers to allow users to remove pre-installed/bloatware apps, as reported by Reuters.
“Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it,’’ said a senior government official who asked to remain anonymous, according to the report. ‘’It’s a matter of national security,” they added.
Due to their connections with China, the Indian government has banned many popular apps before, including, PUBG Mobile, its replacement Battlegrounds Mobile India, TikTok, and its lighter version TikTok Lite. Earlier last month, the government reportedly started the process of banning 232 betting and loan apps with links to China.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is also planning to screen all the major operating system updates before they are made available to customers, one of the sources said.
Reuters wrote that it has seen a confidential government document of an IT ministry meeting dated February 8, which reads: “Majority of smartphones used in India are having pre-installed Apps/Bloatware which poses serious privacy/information security issue(s)“.
According to the document, Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo representatives had a closed-door meeting with the IT ministry, and device manufacturers were given 12 months for compliance once the upcoming rules take effect.
Following Reuters’ report, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology, said on his Twitter account that the story is ‘’plain wrong’’ and that ‘’there is no “security testing” or “crackdown” as story suggests’’.