The Indian Government has asked 21 smartphone makers to share the procedures and processes undertaken by them to ensure the security of mobile devices. Economic Times reports that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has directed the manufacturers, most of whom are Chinese, to share security procedures followed by them. The announcement comes amid escalating tension between India and China.
The 21 smartphone makers include major players like Apple and Samsung, Chinese manufacturers such as Oppo, Vivo, Gionee, Xiaomi and Lenovo and Indian companies like Micromax. The details have been sought regardless of whether their smartphones are built in India or imported from a foreign country. The government has asked these companies to submit the information by August 28. The government is also considering to ask WhatsApp and Google to start local data servers.
The directive from the ministry comes amidst reports of the contact lists and text messages of users being leaked and stored on remote servers. The measure is seen as a way to avoid data leaks and mobile theft both domestically as well as abroad. "There's a need to ensure safety and security of mobile phones or smartphone... that hold valuable information of users as they use the phone to make digital payments and have personal data," the ministry official said.
The scope of information will include details of the device, its operating system, the list of pre-loaded applications on the device and even the default browser shipping with the product. The government plans to issue a penalty on smartphone makers if they find a lapse in their security procedures. The testing and verification of smartphones from these 21 companies will be done in the country itself. In order to ensure quick response, the Ministry of Electronics and IT plans to upgrade its testing facilities in the existing labs, and create additional capacities for efficient testing.
The crackdown could affect Chinese smartphone makers, which altogether control over 50 percent market share in the country. The move will also affect new entrants like Comio and Voto, who are debuting their products in the coming weeks. In the past, India has raised security concerns over the telecom equipment supplied by Huawei and ZTE.