Chinese OEMs are likely in trouble in India. As per a latest report coming from The Morning Concept, the Indian government has sent a notice to select Chinese tech brands asking for details related to data and components used in their devices. Earlier this week, an official notice was sent to brands including Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Since last year, the Chinese manufacturers and app developers have been under scrutiny over various security and privacy concerns. Last September, the Indian government banned hundreds of Chinese apps in the country including some of the popular ones like PUBG Mobile, TikTok, Camscanner, among others.
These Chinese apps were banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The government feared that these Chinese apps were stealing data and other personal details from Indian users and sending it to China. While it was not officially proved, several reports suggested that popular Chinese apps such as TikTok and Krafton’s PUBG Mobile were collecting crucial user data from India and sending them directly to the Chinese companies.
The latest government notice has been sent to the Chinese OEMs based on similar grounds and fears.
Notice to Chinese phone makers
In the notice, the Indian government has specifically asked Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus to share insights on data and components they use to power their devices. Reports suggest that the government might soon send another notice requiring the testing of devices from these brands.
Since the government’s retaliation against hundreds of Chinese apps last year, most Chinese smartphone brands serving the Indian consumers have been all out promoting their “made in India” strategy. These brands also promised to increase local production and investments. Reportedly, some of these investments promised by these Chinese brands have not been fulfilled and the notice is sort of retaliation for that.
Meanwhile, the Indian government is also said to worried and wants to understand whether it is safe for Indians to use products from these Chinese brands. None of the OEMs have revealed any specific details on the same. We neither have a clear word from the government as to why they want to test these devices.
Security a concern?
As per Counterpoint Research, companies in question including Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus together account for more than 50 percent of the Indian smartphone market. Another report coming from the Economic Times suggests that these top Chinese brands have recently “developed a layer of Chinese partners” to sell their products in India, which worries the interest of Indian regulators.
Currently, there’s no legal framework in place to prohibit such operations. With the latest notice, the government is also expected to discuss its views to these brands. As per the report, this will be done while drafting a legal framework, which will include a section about dealing with distribution businesses from nations that share India’s borders.
The same report suggests that the notice could be a part of a larger crackdown against Chinese companies in the country. In fact, it could also be in similar lines with the government’s investigation into components used by Chinese telecom companies including Huawei and ZTE.
In addition to hardware, the government seems to be worried about software details as well, mainly pre-installed apps on Chinese smartphones. Most Android smartphones (Chinese or non-Chinese) come pre-installed with some of their own applications. For instance, Xiaomi/Redmi phones come with Mi Store, Xiaomi Community, Mi Browser, among others.
The latest order hints that the government fears these apps and the hardware used in the phones put Indian users’ security at risk.
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