UC Browser run by Alibaba may Face Ban in India for Stealing Data
Alibaba owned UC Browser is the most popular mobile browser in India. is. According to Business Standard, it is reportedly being probed by the government for sending data from Indian users out of the country and a government lab in Hyderabad is probing how it can send user details and location data to a remote server”. This lab is a centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), an R&D organization for the Department of Electronics and Information Technology run under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. If the Alibaba-owned browser is found guilty, it could be banned.
A top official in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said “Complaints have been received against UC Browser that it sends mobile data of Indian users to servers in China. The matter is being looked into,”
UC Browser is a mobile browser developed by the Chinese mobile Internet company UC Web and is owned by Alibaba Group of China. Originally launched in April 2004 as a J2ME-only application, it is available on a number of platforms including Android, BlackBerry, iOS,Java ME. According to reports, UC Browser sends data including device’s IMEI number and location data to a server in China on connecting to a Wi-Fi network. UC Browser claimed to have over 100 million monthly active users in India as per a report last year while globally, its user base is nearly 420 million. According to TOI, a spokesperson for the company said that it takes security and privacy very seriously, though adding that “it is common practice for IT companies to place servers all around the globe to provide better service to its users… We will not do anything to breach the trust of our users.”
“At UC Web, we take security and privacy very seriously and work hard to comply with local regulations of each region we operate in… We have strong measures in place to encrypt the data while we transmit it,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company is yet to any notice or intimation from the government on the matter. The spokesperson, however, defended the decision to collect user data: “It is also standard industry practice to collect user information and data in necessary scenarios to provide users with localised services. We take necessary authorization from users to collect this data. Our systems are protected by an end-user licensing agreement which protect the interest of our users.”
Most of the companies into digital space have their own servers to store their data, and for possible data analytics based operations and decision making.
Now, if a company like Alibaba and UC Web are based in China, then it is obvious that their servers would be based in China, and information from all their users, including Indians, would be stored over there.
We will keep you updated as we receive more information on this issue.