India Govt Puts Chinese Handsets Under Scanner: Report
The government has reportedly started a review of the massive import of electronics and IT products from China due to concerns over security and data leakages. According to a report published on ET, “The ministry of electronics and IT has asked 21 smartphone making companies to share the security procedures and processes they follow to ensure security of mobile phones, following national and international reports of data leakage and theft.”
The government has given the companies, a large majority of which are Chinese, time till August 28, to revert with the details of processes they follow. The ambit of ensuring security will include the device, it’s operating system, the browser, it added.
There has been a growing concern on the curbs on such products, which currently constitute a huge chunk of shipments from China. The review comes at a time when the India-China tension over Doklam has been mounting as the situation on the border has worsened and concerns about trade imbalances and security has also gone up.
According to a recent study by industry chamber CII, the growing engagement of Chinese companies within India’s burgeoning electronics and IT industry is worth nearly $22 billion. The government believes that much of this can be used to gain unlawful access to critical information about individuals, businesses, and government set-ups.
“There are increasing concerns about the preparedness of the security apparatus, especially as there are fears that electronics, online trade platforms, and finished goods can be tapped into for procuring sensitive information,” industry sources told the news site. “Communication has already been sent to industry players for their views and assess their preparedness in protection of data and critical information.”
The Indian government’s movement towards digitalization of services and trade and the manifold increase in online transactions has also added to security concerns, which have reached the highest echelons of government. IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently held a top-level meeting to assess the situation with regard to the Chinese engagement in India’s electronics and IT sector.
Chinese companies have become almost a backbone to India’s massive requirements in the manufacturing of electronics, especially when a large part of the critical components and finished goods are imported. These include components for products such as mobile phones, medical equipment, telecom network gear and devices and sensors linked to the Internet of Things (IoT). Also, major Chinese companies hold substantial stakes in some of the country’s largest online marketplaces.
“Many of the devices transmit, or store, data back into Chinese servers, which could pose a security risk. Also, online transactions using many of these devices and platforms can be tracked back to Chinese servers, which can create security issues for the country at a time of heightened tension on the border,” one source said.
Meanwhile, the government has been pushing local manufacturing by introducing benefits for manufacturing in India. The “Make in India” policy has been focusing on this aspect. Prasad has earlier said the government expects the turnover of the digital, communications and IT industry to grow nearly fourfold to $1 trillion by 2022 against $280 billion currently.
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