In a decisive move to protect internet users, the Indian government has issued a directive to all digital platforms, including social media, to cease the promotion of deceptive loan applications. The order was announced by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, emphasizing the government’s commitment to safeguarding citizens from misleading and exploitative online loan schemes.

Chandrasekhar highlighted the ministry’s advisory to social media entities, urging them to implement robust measures to filter out and prohibit advertisements from illegal loan and betting apps. These apps, notorious for scamming and misleading users, are now under stringent observation. He stated, “Through our recent advisory, we have explicitly instructed that no intermediary should disseminate advertisements of fraudulent loan apps. Such practices mislead and exploit internet users, and we’re committed to curbing this.”

The advisory, issued by the IT ministry, aligns with the provisions of the Information Technology (IT) Rules, focusing on the elimination of misinformation, deceptive content, and impersonation. This development follows a report by the Indian Express, revealing the government’s plans to amend the IT Rules. These amendments aim to ensure that social media platforms abstain from hosting advertisements of fraudulent apps, failing which they may risk losing their legal immunity.

The government’s concern stems from the recent proliferation of fraudulent digital lending apps. In response, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has coordinated with MeitY and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to establish a whitelist of legal loan apps that adhere to RBI guidelines. The objective is to ensure that only RBI-approved loan applications are accessible on major app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Furthering these efforts, Google recently introduced a policy mandating personal loan apps to provide a comprehensive privacy policy. This policy must detail the access, collection, usage, and sharing of personal and sensitive user data. In a statement to the Parliament, Sitharaman revealed that Google has removed over 2,500 fraudulent digital lending apps from its Play Store between April 2021 and July 2022, and has reviewed between 3,500 to 4,000 apps during the same timeframe, reflecting a proactive approach in addressing this critical issue.

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