Indian preinstalled apps clampdown causes controversy

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India plans to implement new security test on smartphones amid spying concerns Reuters claims. According to its report, which cites two people and a government document, local authorities want phone makers to allow pre-installed apps to be removed, similar to what is done in Europe.

After the report went live, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and IT, claimed that the story is “plain wrong” and based on “unbridled creative imagination” and “lack of understanding” by Reuters. He declined to elaborate further.

A senior official, speaking off the record, said pre-installed apps can be a security liability and the government wants to ensure foreign nations, such as China, don’t exploit it. “It is a matter of national security,” they added.

Currently, manufacturers from China occupy the largest share of the smartphone market. Xiaomi, Oppo and vivo account for 47% of all sales, while Samsung sits at 20% and Apple at only 3%. Under the alleged proposed rules, manufacturers will have to provide an uninstall option for all apps that come with the phone, and new models will be checked for compliance by an authorized lab.

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Industry insiders claimed that some apps are critical to the user experience and must be pre-installed, such as the camera app. The government reviewing every app on every device would further lengthen the already lengthy compliance procedure.

Currently, it takes 16 to 21 weeks for a smartphone and its parts to be certified for sale in India, despite attempts by the government to halve the time required for such procedures.

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