Pre-installed Apps: Boon or Bane

first_imgA petition has been filed in the Supreme Court wanting app manufacturers to disclose all pre-installed apps in the outer packaging in major local languages. The plea was filed by Advocate Jatin Rana and represented by Advocate Wajeeh Shafiq and drawn by Advocates Divye Chugh & Nimish Chib. The PIL has been desired in the Supreme Court for the safety and enforcement of the right to privacy as recognized in the fundamental Framework of the constitution viz. Article 21.The petition wants a thorough check in the data protection exercise of Chinese mobile companies. The petition majorly focuses on our citizen’s privacy which can be jeopardised through data collected by pre-installed apps in smartphones made mostly by Chinese companies. The breach these pre-installed apps can cause should be brought to the limelight and broader attention should be given to this issue. In this context, the plea asks the application manufacturers to reveal how they can protect Indian consumers data from falling into the hands of wrong corporations which can ultimately misuse the data collected.The assertions in the plea are initiated with the concern regarding the data consumed by pre-installed apps. The privacy and security risk posed by pre-installed applications are large and should be treated with the utmost seriousness. Chinese smartphones have always had some pre-installed applications which are usually not fully disclosed in the outer cover of the mobile phone.“That the petitioner is concerned about the privacy and data theft of Indian smartphone users which is being done by Chinese smartphone companies. The present petition is necessitated in view of various researches having been conducted on the issue of data theft and compromise of privacy of a smartphone user through pre-installed applications in an android smartphone,” the plea reads.Rana wants the government to have proper guidelines concerning pre-installed applications. The petitioner wants the apex court to deal with this in regards to the right to privacy. It wants the manufacturers to guarantee the privacy of the user by revealing how the data collected from the pre-installed applications will be used/stored.It is contended that pre-installed apps make the privacy and records of a person vulnerable and that it is well within the rights of a consumer to be protected, to choose and to be informed and educated.“….when a user purchases the smartphone and the moment the user starts the smartphone, the already pre-installed app will start running and collecting data of the user without the user being aware of the same” – Excerpt of PleaThe disclosures by manufacturers should include the user data such apps have access to, how the data is stored, who has access to it, and what it is likely to be used for.The route to Google to make efforts to eliminate undesirable pre-established apps and further update their Android system to recognize such apps. The petition has cited the 50 Privacy Security Groups including American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and UK-based Privacy International had written to Google to protect android users from pre-installed apps coming with new android smartphones. Their main concern was that the Android Partners – who use the Android trademark and branding – are manufacturing devices that contain pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted (often known as ‘bloatware’), which can leave users vulnerable to their data being collected, shared and exposed without their knowledge or consent, the plea reads. The petition has also cited the Indian government’s bans of over apps by Chinese companies citing security and sovereignty of India. Rana has also invoked the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, stating that pre-installed apps are not in line with consumer rights granted under the act, such as the right to be protected against marketing of goods that are hazardous to life and property of a consumer, right to be informed, right to choose, and right to consumer education and awareness.There has also been increased protectionism in the Indian digital industry regarding China’s interests in the country. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury ha called for building an “impregnable firewall” to counter “digital aggression” by China.It’s been preferred that directions be issued to Google to provide an update in the android system, from which all faulty pre-installed apps can be identified. It can further also provide ways to get out of such faulty pre-installed apps & enquire into the data protection and privacy standards of Google and other Chinese Smartphone companies operating in India.In addition, it is requested that the Centre further carry out exhaustive research as to how these companies have been collecting data, how it has been used and where is that collected data stored.last_img read more