Tech giants Apple and Google have reportedly removed two international SIM service apps, Airalo and Holafly, from their Indian app stores, following directives from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The ban extends to ISPs, instructed to block access to the apps’ websites within the country.
Airalo, based in Singapore, and Holafly, headquartered in Spain, offered eSIM services globally, allowing users to activate mobile plans without a physical SIM card. Notably, there has been no official confirmation or statement from either Apple or Google regarding the removal of these apps.
The government’s decision to ban these apps stemmed from concerns over unauthorized eSIMs being exploited by fraudsters to facilitate cybercrimes within India. The eSIMs with international phone numbers were being misused, prompting the action by the DoT to curb potential security threats.
The eSIM, described by Apple as an “industry-standard digital SIM,” enables users to activate multiple mobile plans without relying on physical SIM cards. This technology allows users to install multiple digital SIMs, supporting the use of multiple phone numbers simultaneously, particularly on Apple iPhones.
The rules governing the sale of international SIMs in India require entities to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the DoT. Moreover, the 2022 policy mandates that these SIM cards can only be utilized by Indian customers outside the country. Authorized sellers are required to collect and verify customer identification documents such as passports and visas.
Additionally, these authorized sellers are obliged to furnish details of global SIMs to security agencies on a monthly basis. The stringent regulations aim to ensure oversight and accountability in the sale and usage of international SIM cards, emphasizing the need for proper authorization and monitoring to prevent potential misuse.
The ban on Airalo and Holafly underscores the Indian government’s proactive measures to safeguard against cyber threats and unauthorized telecommunications practices, aligning with regulations aimed at enhancing security and accountability within the country’s digital landscape.
Sources By Agencies