An astounding number of Indian smartphone users, around 40 per cent, knowingly or otherwise, share data with others across the world, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a parliamentary panel has reportedly been told.
A report in The Indian Express citing sources states that on July 21, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who retired on Thursday, apprised the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs chaired by former Finance minister P Chidambaram on July 21 that fingerprints and biometrics were being captured and that this had happened with 40 per cent of the population that owned smartphones.
According to the newspaper, the information was shared by a Mehrishi last month when he appeared before panel and was questioned on the possible threats to privacy over the government’s move to link Aadhaar to a slew of services.
Mehrishi, as per The India Express, termed the sharing of data by mobile companies as something that had turned into a ‘nuisance’ and is said to have referred to the capturing of fingerprints and biometrics by mobile companies as a concern.
The former top bureaucrat also flagged the threat of data theft through the use of applications and said people were sharing this data inadvertently when they used popular Apps on their smartphones.
When questioned if the figure of the threat to 40 per cent of the population could further increase with the rise in smartphone usage, Mehrishi responded in the affirmative, the report added.
Notably, the government had on August 12 written 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.
India had moved from 10 million smartphones in 2011 to 300 million in 2017 and with the current growth rate would likely touch 500 million by 2020, Rajan Anandan VP (Southeast Asia and India) at Google India told exhange4media.com.
According to the IAMAI, India has become the third-largest smartphone market in the world. The number of Indian smartphone users is expected to reach 369 million by 2018, it said.