Samsung phone users may disable Wi-Fi security app at their will

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jun. 22, 2023 7:18PM GMT+9

Samsung phone users may be able to deactivate or delete the Wi-Fi security application which is pre-installed in the latest Galaxy phones at their own will, according to the South Korean government on Wednesday.

In a press release, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) stated that they held the 20th meeting and decided to issue administrative guidance to Samsung that will give Galaxy phone users the liberty to delete or disable “Secure Wi-Fi,” a preloaded and unremovable application. According to a post on Samsung’s official website last year, Secure Wi-Fi is an application that provides users with safe internet access even while using unreliable public Wi-Fi networks. Users can protect their data free of charge, up to 250MB or 1024MB respectively per month depending on the model.

The KCC monitored preloaded applications installed in thirteen smart phones released in the last half of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, including three phones for children. The South Korean government looked into pre-installed applications for years, as there were accusations that these services hinder the users’ right to choose applications and negatively affect phone storage and battery capacity. Moreover, under the telecommunications business act, the operators are prohibited from restricting, deleting, or taking measures similar to removing software that is unnecessary to the phone’s functions.

The KCC decided to change the status of the application from prerequisite to optional for removal based on multiple reasons, including the existence of other services with similar functions and the users’ right to remove the services that they don’t need. In addition, the South Korean government considered the fact that the application is available for download in the Galaxy app store. Although it is compulsory for earlier phones, users with older versions such as Galaxy S10, S20, and S21 could also use the service for protection.

“We have gone through multiple discussions with experts including those in the technological and legal field and they determined that the application is not a compulsory one that must be restricted from removal,” explained an official of the consumer protection division at KCC. The official added that Samsung submitted an improvement plan stating that they will apply the administration’s guidelines progressively around October of this year.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.