India Government has issued a notice to 21 smartphone companies to set up servers in India and share the protocols. The list includes most of the Chinese mobile vendors who hold a big market share in India. Let’s discuss the potential factors that lead the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to demand this change.
Cause Of Action
Smartphones nowadays come pre-installed with third-party apps and inbuilt vendor specific user accounts. These apps and accounts collect user data and send to servers hosted mostly outside India. As per a report by eScan, neither manufacturers nor developers do proper documentation of the data they collect from users under the garb of statistics. Companies can sell these user data for monetary or commercial purposes and worst could happen in the hands of cyber criminals.
“If the government finds any malicious activity from the information provided by handset makers, it may give them time to ensure security, by setting up servers in India. The Indian government has rules for banking, financial services, and even telecom, where user data has to stay in the country.” Jaipal Singh, senior analyst at IDC India
This isn’t the first time Government raise such a concern. Earlier they warned local telcos about possible spyware or malware in equipment sold to them by Huawei and ZTE, and such occurrences declined. In 2012 Blackberry was asked to setup a server in India. Later Indian Air Force also cautioned its personnel from using Xiaomi devices, due to security concern.
Prevention and Precaution
But now India Government have decided to impose a penalty for violations of Section 43(A) of IT Act. Notices were also sent to Indian companies Micromax, Lava, and Karbonn along with global players like Samsung and Apple. The ministry of electronics and IT is also working on a specific data protection law. This will cover aspects such as data sovereignty, data retention and the responsibilities companies in handling third-party data. They also plan to set up domestic facilities for testing and verification of smartphone security.
Due to the uprising tension on the Indo-China border, Government fears a backdoor for cyber attacks with this data exposure. Even though many locals are refraining to buy Chinese FMCG products, the latest IDC report says that a large share of the Indian smartphone market is occupied by them. So to be on the safe side, such measures from Government is a must. Hope you enjoyed the write-up, Peace!