The Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government in India is distributing smartphones and tablets to young students and it includes Samsung devices. Over the weekend, eligible students received Samsung’s Galaxy A03s or the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite.
The devices were given for free to students studying in the final year, which will be eventually extended to 10 million (1 crore) students. However, the devices come with a catch.
According to the video posted by Gyan Therapy who managed to get their hands on the government-issued phone and tablet, the devices can be a privacy nightmare for its users.
The initial setup confirms the “IT admin may be able to see your data and activity on this device” and comes with restrictions on what the user can do. We are not sure of the exact restrictions and policies in place since we don’t have a device but the video does confirm the government-issued phone and tablet users will not be able to change their phone’s wallpaper — which currently shows the current Chief Minister and the Prime Minister — or deactivate the security policy.
The government-issued Galaxy A03s and the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite with Samsung Knox is similar to any company issuing a device to its employee that has company security policies in place but the restrictive nature of the ones given away by the government is potentially worrying. In this case, the IT admin or the department in-charge of this program can not only change the wallpaper but put restrictions on the apps that can be installed or can remotely wipe the full device.
The Galaxy A03s is a budget phone that features a 6.5-inch Infinity-V display, 5000mAh battery and an octa-core MediaTek P35 processor. It also comes with triple cameras at the back with a 13MP+2MP macro+2MP depth combo, 5MP on the front and up to 4GB RAM and up to 64GB of storage.
The Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is the budget tablet that boasts hardware like an 8.7-inch display, MediaTek Helio P22T processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD card slot and 5100mAh battery.
The Galaxy A03s and the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite without the restrictions retail on sites like Amazon for under Rs. 12,000 and around Rs. 9,000 on P2P marketplaces like OLX, which in buzzing with new listings since the distribution program began.
[Thanks, Sunil for the tip!]