Google removed about 100 money lending apps that were “possibly not in compliance with the applicable legal and regulatory framework” from December 2020 till January 20, 2021, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has received a number of public grievances against frauds and the malpractices by few online instant loan applications available on internet, including Google Play store, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
He added that the complaints are mainly related to high interest rates, alleged collection of personal data and its misuse, fraudulent and unlawful practices of physical threats and use of other coercive methods for recovery of loan and that few cases have also been filed in the courts. “Upon being notified by law enforcement agencies of the availability of certain money lending apps that were possibly not in compliance with the applicable legal and regulatory framework, Google has already removed about 100 such apps since December 2020 till January 20, 2021,” he said.
While Google has stated that it has removed certain money lending apps that found to be violating its user safety policies, it has not disclosed the number of these apps or their names. The minister pointed that the Reserve Bank of India also issued a press release in December 2020 stating that legitimate public lending activities can be undertaken by banks, NBFCs registered with the RBI and other entities who are regulated by the state governments under appropriate statutory provisions such as the money lending Acts.
Members of public were cautioned not to fall prey to such unscrupulous activities and were requested to verify the antecedents of a company offering loans online or through mobile apps, he said. On a separate question on governing social media, Dhotre said social media platforms are intermediaries under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had proposed to amend the IT (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, notified under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000. “The proposed amendments to the said Rules were published on MeitY website on December 24, 2018 inviting public comments,” he said.
He added that a meeting was held with legal experts and the privacy advocates on December 29, 2018, to convey the perspectives of proposed amendments. Based on these discussions, along with comments received through public consultation, the Rules are being finalised, he said. “The government regularly interacts with social media platforms regarding the steps to be taken to make social media safer,” he added.