IT Ministry writes to Motorola, Honor, Asus, OnePlus, other smartphone firms on data security

The IT ministry has written to nine more mobile handset companies seeking information on their data security procedures, and intends to approach all the remaining smartphone brands, including Reliance Retail’s Lyf brand on the same, a senior official said. The Electronics and IT Ministry, on August 12, wrote to 21 companies, majority of them Chinese, asking them to outline the procedures and processes adopted by them to ensure security and privacy of users’ data. Subsequently, nine more companies, including Motorola, Honor, Asus, OnePlus, InFocus have been added to that list, taking the total number of such companies to 30.

The IT ministry has now said it intends to ask all the remaining companies selling smartphones in India to provide details of the security processes followed by them to safeguard users’ data. “All smartphone companies selling handsets in India should provide details about framework and procedures adopted by them for data security,” said the senior IT ministry official who did not wish to be named.

The official confirmed that all the remaining smartphone brands – including Reliance Retail’s lyf – will be approached for similar information. A mail sent to Reliance Retail went unanswered. Other companies that IT ministry has approached include Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, Gionee, Oppo, HMD, Lava, Micromax, among others.
OPPO, in a statement today, said it recognizes the importance of data privacy of the customers and takes it “earnestly”. “Every effort is made to collect and use personal data in full compliance with the current data privacy laws by the government and users’ permission,” it said.
OPPO further said: “with Global Security Support of our server partner, Amazon Web Service (AWS), complied with privacy protect regulations from Singapore where the server is located, OPPO provides worry-free guardian towards personal data saved on AWS”. “OPPO or any third party cannot hack information from this server,” it said, adding the company also has cooperation with the renowned antivirus company Avast for its built-in anti-virus software for each OPPO device to protect users security and privacy from being attacked.
The directive on data security comes amid tension between India and China over Doklam, as also rising concerns over imports of Chinese IT and telecom products.

The IT ministry has cited international and domestic reports about data leaks from mobile phones, and said devices and preloaded software and apps will be under scrutiny in the first phase. Based on the response of the companies, the ministry will initiate verification and audit of devices where required. It has also warned of penalties under provisions of IT Act 43 (A) in case stipulated processes are not being followed.
The objective of the entire exercise is to ensure that required data security measures are being taken with regard to hardware and software in mobile phones.

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