Apple @ India

Apple India and TRAI are Still Fighting about the Anti-Spamming App

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Apple India and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have been involved in a tug-of-war match with iPhone user data acting as the rope between them. According to TRAI, no smartphone company should be the custodian of the data that the users have on their smartphones and should share it with the apps that require it to function. While Apple believes that the anti-spam app from TRAI is a potential risk to its user’s privacy.

TRAI has developed an anti-spamming app that can block the numbers reported by the users and would then launch a strict action against the number. The Do Not Disturb (DND 2.0) app is readily available for the users of Android OS (although it has terrible customer reviews).

They are trying to bring the same app to Apple’s iOS devices, but Apple doesn’t agree to open up the software to allow the app to collect user data.

What does TRAI have to say about this?

The Chairman of TRAI, RS Sharma, a few weeks back had publicly criticised Apple for being stubborn, and now he is taking an even stronger tone, “Nobody’s asking Apple to violate its privacy policy. It is a ridiculous situation; no company can be allowed to be the guardian of a user’s data.” Sharma further said, “The problem of who controls user data is getting acute, and we have to plug the loose ends”. “This is not the regulator versus Apple, but Apple versus its users.”

Apple’s take on the matter

Reportedly, Apple has told TRAI that the DND app would violate the privacy policies that the company has for their App Store. In an attempt to explain themselves, the regulatory body has recently come up with a comprehensive paper on “data ownership” which argues that the users should own their data and should have a say on how the data should be used. However, what’s ironic is that once the users install the app on their phones, TRAI would have access to all the data on their phones including, call log, messages list as well as galleries. (Who are you fooling, TRAI?)

This tussle may be one of the reasons why Apple’s efforts to expand in India is at a standstill currently. The company has been in discussion with the government to open retail outlets and be granted permission to manufacture and sell used iPhones imported into the country for a long time now. They have even put forward a list of demands including tax breaks and other concessions which has been stuck in deadlock. But things don’t seem to be moving as of now.  

How are the users dealing with it?

For the users in India, spam messages and calls are nothing new and is a usual trend that they have been dealing with for decades. Most users install TrueCaller app to manage spam on their phones (which itself is swarmed with irrelevant ads, but we don’t have an option, do we?)

While the intention of TRAI seems a bit suspicious, the idea of data ownership sounds good in a nutshell. Data ownership would allow users become the sole possessors of their data and take a lot of power away from services like Google, Facebook and more. However, this would also open flood gates for third party apps that would require a mere click of the ‘Accept’ button to have access to all information on the phone.

We still do think that the data on our smartphones is safer with Apple instead of TRAI, but we would certainly like to hear your opinion on the debate. Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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