Leading Smartphone Brands Ordered By Govt. To Explain Their Security Safeguard Measures

Is Dokalam Standoff With Chinese The Real Reason?



Indian Govt. has decided to take the issue of security and safety of smartphones sold in India pretty seriously. In an unprecedented move, Govt. has invoked Section 70B(6) of the IT Act. It has ordered leading smartphone makers to furnish details related to security mechanism adopted by them.

In case they fail to do so, then strict action would be taken against them.

21 leading smartphone makers have been issued notice related to this. They include brands like Apple, Samsung, and majority of Chinese handset makers.

Govt. to Smartphone Brands: Provide Security Details Or Face Action

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a high level meeting with officials from Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), and sent a letter to 21 smartphone makers on August 14th.

In the letter, they have given a deadline of August 28th to provide in depth details related to security mechanism used by them to protect smartphones sold in India.

Details which are sought from these manufacturers include information pertaining to guidelines and standards adopted for securing transmission and storage of data, security practices implemented , security architecture, frameworks, and more.

Considering that more and more users are opting for digital payments, and using social media, sharing private information on the web, Govt. now wants to ensure that smartphones sold in India are secured.

An official from the Ministry said, “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.”

As per the letter sent, Govt. has made it clear that in case security guidelines are not met or they fail to provide pertinent information, then strict action would be taken against them.

Another official from the Ministry said, “People fear that their personal data gets shared during software updation and gets stored in servers outside the country..”

Is Chinese Standoff At Dokalam The Reason ?

We have already reported how Chinese smartphone brands have literally taken over Indian market in the last few years.

While Chinese brands grew by 340%, Indian brands managed a mere 14% growth, in the same period.

As per January, 2017 data, Chinese brands now account for 40% of all smartphones sold in India; and there are no Indian brands in the top 5 position.

If we relate this data with the ongoing standoff between India and China on the Dokalam issue, then things become obvious.

Govt. knows that majority of data is being used, transferred and saved via Chinese smartphones. Now, they want to know how much of this data is being misused.

The notice has been sent to leading brands such as Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Gionee (besides Indian brands like Micromax as well). It seems that the IT Ministry wants to know how much data is being stored by these companies, on their own servers in China.

Jaipal Singh, senior analyst at IDC India said, “Information flowing out of the country is a concern, and this is not the first time this has been raised by the government. Globally, there are examples of governments asking for data, for example China, which has rules restricting data going out of the country, and companies have provided details like this, when asked for,”

We will keep you updated as we receive more information on this issue.

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