‘Google, Apple app stores must not onboard illegal, unsafe apps’, says Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

‘Google, Apple app stores must not onboard illegal, unsafe apps’, says Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

The Centre has issued an advisory to technology giants Apple and Google asking them not to onboard unsafe applications, Union minister of state for electronics and information technology (IT) Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Saturday. This comes in wake of reports of lending apps harassing their borrowers.

Union minister of state for entrepreneurship, skill development, electronics & information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. (HT file)

“Today both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have many applications that are used by the Indians. We are tracking one set of applications which are loan applications…We have issued an advisory to both Google and Apple that they must not onboard unsafe applications or illegal applications”, the minister told news agency ANI.

“It is our government’s objective and mission to keep the internet safe and trusted for all ‘digital nagriks’…We intend to have the earliest meeting with the RBI to make sure there is a whitelisting that means to make a norm of only allowing permitted loan applications on these two stores”, he added.

In July this year, Cupertino-based Apple had said it removed several lending apps from its App Store in India following reports of them harassing and threatening borrowers came into light.

Several reviewers had claimed that such loan apps offered fast-track loans to the customers but levied heavy charges.

As per customers, the lenders often employed blackmailing tactics to intimidate borrowers into repaying the amount.

A Google spokesperson said earlier this year that in 2022, the company reviewed and took necessary action that included removal of more than 3,500 personal loan apps for violations of the Play policy requirements. This year, a new Google Play policy for any financial product or services engaged in providing loans or facilitating access to a loan barred access to photos and contacts in the phone on which these apps are installed.

Following the implementation of the Personal Loan App Declaration in 2022, Google mandated any apps offering financial loans to users, or facilitating the process, to prominently disclose all the names of the partner banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) within the app description.

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