UC Web, the browser owned by Chinese internet giant Alibaba, has been put under the microscope and is being scrutinized by the government as part of investigations against Chinese companies over data theft. If found guilty of stealing data of Indian users, the company may be banned in the country, a top official in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said, reported ToI.
“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,” the official said.
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 in India which is mostly mobile based.
“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 to ToI, 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.”
The ministry official said that their fears that data is being stolen even when the app has been uninstalled by a user. “There are complaints that even if a user has uninstalled it or cleaned browsing data, the browser retains control of DNS of users device,” the official requesting anonymity, said.
UC Browser is part of Alibaba’s mobile business group. Alibaba is a major investor in the payment bank firm Paytm and its parent company One97. Besides Paytm, Alibaba has invested in e-commerce firm Snapdeal as well.