Data security: Lens on foreign mobile phone makers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018



Govt asks 21 companies to provide safety details

Taking a tough stand, the government has ordered all leading mobile phone manufacturers, majority of them Chinese, to provide some details about safety and security practices they undertake during production.

According to a senior official, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has written to 21 companies including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus.

“Under the Section 70B (6) of IT Act, you are hereby requested to provide a detailed written response about the safety and security practices, architecture, frameworks, guidelines/standards, etc., followed/implemented in your product/services provided in the country,” the letter said.

Based on the response of the companies, the Ministry will initiate verification and audit of devices where required, said the official.

The directive comes amid a stand-off between India and China over Doklam, as also rising concerns over imports of Chinese IT and telecom equipment.

According to sources, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had called a meeting of senior officials from his department, including representatives of CERT-IN and others, on August 14 to take stock of the situation.

“There have been reports that some mobile companies leak data in the form of contacts/text messages to a third country. Therefore, we have ordered some companies and asked them what steps can be taken to secure data and they are not compromised in anyway. We have asked them to furnish details by August 28,” an official said.

“For any content, the mobile devices form the centrepiece, and any app/content which is preloaded,is part of the device. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the device-maker to take care of such data,” the official said.

As regards penalty, the official said, there’s ‘unlimited compensation’ and penalties of ₹5 crore through state-level arbitrators in terms of the damage caused by a company, under the IT Act.

Section 43 (a) of the Act says a company is responsible to make sure that it keeps all the data of the users safe and they are complied by the rules of the land.

According to experts, Apple is one of the companies, which has the highest commitment towards privacy of its users. It clearly explains in its website on how it handles a user’s information, what it does and does not collect, and why.

Published on August 16, 2017

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