India to Crack Down on Pre-Installed Apps Under New Smartphone Security Rules

India plans to force smartphone makers like Apple to allow removal of pre-installed apps and mandate screening of OS updates under proposed new security rules, reports Reuters.

iphone 14 india
Under the new rules, smartphone makers will need to include an uninstall option for pre-installed apps and new models will be checked for compliance by a lab authorized by the Bureau of Indian Standards agency, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

Apple already allows many of its own apps to be deleted, but core apps like Messages, Photos, and Phone cannot be deleted, only removed from the Home screen and hidden in the App Library.

According to the report's sources, India's IT ministry is considering the rules over concerns about spying and abuse of user data, with explicit references to the risk from China.

"Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it," said an unnamed official. "It's a matter of national security."

Since a border clash with China in 2022, India has banned more than 300 Chinese apps in the country, including TikTok. It has also intensified scrutiny of investments by Chinese firms.

According to government documents seen by Reuters, a closed-door meeting was attended by representatives from Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple and Vivo to discuss the plan.

The government is said to be giving smartphone makers a year to comply with the rules when it comes into effect, but there are concerns that they could delay launch timeframes for new smartphones and lead to business losses. Currently it takes about 21 weeks for a smartphone and its parts to be tested by India's IT ministry for safety compliance.

Tag: India

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Top Rated Comments

NoelWalker Avatar
17 months ago
Yeah let's allow users to delete the essential apps like Phone and Camera and App Store then proceed to complain at Apple for giving them uninstall options to turn their iPhones into i . This has nothing to do with national security, just pure nonsense.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
somnolentsurfer Avatar
17 months ago
This sounds like it’s more targeted at some of the absolute garbage, borderline malware, that comes preinstalled and unremovable on lots of cheap Android phones.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
17 months ago
Does not really surprise me to be honest. Ever tried to get something as simple as a prepaid sim card in India? What a pain in the A ... I am not sure if this is related to the drama involving Pakistan but India as a whole seems to be very tight on surveillance / security.

ALSO, 3rd party Apps is one thing but if you do not even trust the pre-installed Apps from vendor X, why even allow those devices to be sold in the first place?!? Might as well question the OS or hardware as a whole
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ctrlos Avatar
17 months ago
But I like the preinstalled apps on my iPhone. There is an inherent safety in trusting all my data to Apple rather than splitting it across 3rd parties who might hike their prices at a moments notice or go out of business. We might baulk at big tech but it has some advantages.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cyb3rdud3 Avatar
17 months ago
LOL The country that is pestering the world with scammy call centres wants this for security reasons. Yeah right.

Anyway regardless of the real reason I have no issue with this, if people want to reduce the functionality of their device then why not let them. Just make them available as free (re)downloads in the App Store. But wait, shouldn't the app store be deletable as well?

This is clearly aimed at some of those cheap rubbish Android devices with even fake version numbers, fake current security updates, and modified ROMs in ways that noone should ever trust. Perhaps the civil servants should actually target those.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
17 months ago

By default a smartphone should come with just three apps - dialer, messages and browser. Everything else should be optional during the setup process.
How would you get any other Apps on your device then? Without an AppStore and is "Settings" not considered an App?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)