India govt concerned about Chinese apps

India govt concerned about Chinese apps

Summary: Amid the growing popularity of Whatsapp and UC Browser in India, various government agencies have expressed concerns over potential security risks of these made-in-China mobile apps.

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TOPICS: Security, Apps, China, India
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The Indian government has expressed concerns over potential security risks stemming from the growing popularity of Chinese-developed mobile apps in the country. 

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Increasing adoption of instant messaging app WeChat and mobile browser UC Browser has caught the attention of government officials from India's Home Ministry, Telecom Department, and Cyber Emergency Response Team, according to report Wednesday by the Economic Times

Both apps rank among the top 10 most downloaded apps on Google Play store in India, and UC Browser is currently the top mobile browser in India, powering 29.9 percent of overall Internet traffic among India mobile users. Developed by Tencent Holdings, WhatsApp has some 450 million registered users worldwide, though, only 70 million are based outside China. 

Citing a senior official from Home Ministry, the Economic Times said the Indian government was in discussions with various agencies including the Department of Telecom, about practices adopted by Chinese app makers and potential data security threats. None of the Chinese companies, though, had been contacted.

"We will come out with concrete observations soon," Rakesh Singh, a joint secretary who oversees internal security at the ministry, said in the report. He added that these government-level discussions, held in New Delhi, were not limited to WeChat and UC Browser but involved broader mobile policy matters and how India would handle such issues. "It should not happen that today we take a call on WeChat and tomorrow something else starts," Singh said.

BJP MP for Rajya Sabha, Tarun Vijay, urged the government to assess Chinese apps since they accessed personal data such as messages between millions of smartphone users across India. According to stats from Canalys, the country's smartphone market growth leads the world at 129 percent.  

The Indian government had expressed similar concerns over security in May 2013 when it launched a probe into network equipment manufactured by Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE, following U.S. allegations that China was involved in cyberespionage. Responding to reports that the government was considering plans to ban Whatsapp, Tencent in June defended its security credentials, saying it complied with all relevant laws and regulations in the country. 

Topics: Security, Apps, China, India

About

Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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3 comments
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  • They should definitely ban all android devices from

    connecting to government networks. All governments and corporations should. They are full of security holes.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Let me guess

      You have an iPhone.
      Gisabun
  • India again?

    First they are trying to ban the use of free Email services because they think they are unsafe and now this?
    First, the article states Chinese apps - not Chinese made Android apps or Chines based iPhone apps.
    Second, the geniuses in India think by blocking Gmail or Hotmail [or others] that they won't be spied on? If anything, Google and Hotmail may be more secure than the mom and pop system [or some small ISP that doesn't care about security].
    This [what it seems] non-tech savvy government tried to force Blackberry to give the "keys" to the BBM service.
    Gisabun