The ongoing stand-off between Apple and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on allowing the latter’s DND app to work on iPhones and iPads seems far from over, as sources said the US-based tech giant is delaying the issue, which has been hanging fire for more than a year now.
According to top government sources, Apple has been “uncooperative” with Trai over the regulator’s attempts to create a ‘do not disturb (DND)’ app for the iOS platform. The app helps check spam calls and SMSes. They say Apple is “unnecessarily delaying” it.
However, the Apple iOS 11 platform meets one of the demands that Trai has raised. iOS 11 sports a feature called IdentityLookup that helps create an app extension to identify and filter unwanted SMSes and MMSes while preserving the user’s privacy. The update was released for the public in September and covers one part of the feature on the DND app — filtering spam SMSes.
But this feature is available globally for all apps and Apple has still not changed its stance on users’ privacy.
Reports that Apple would help India in building the DND app has also not helped the issue either.
Besides, the other major issue of accessing call logs still remains and Apple is trying to “dodge” and “delay” it for reasons best know to it, a government official said, adding, “If access to SMS can be allowed, what is the reason for sitting on the other request?”
“Essentially, what Trai said is that Apple’s platform does not enable accessing a user’s call logs and this is after taking the user’s consent. And if your platform does not enable that, please ensure that it does, or else, provide some mechanism by which this data can be accessed. It belongs to the users and they should have the freedom to decide what to do with it,” he explained.
Sources said that the regulator is in the process of writing to Apple to respond on reasons behind not allowing access to users’ call logs.
Industry insiders say that Apple respects Trai’s efforts on creating a responsible eco-system for consumers and has been in conversation with the regulator for a number of months to find a solution. The features rolled out in iOS 11 will enable Trai to build their app and the company is working “collaboratively” with them towards finding a solution.
Both Apple and Trai declined to comment on the issue. Apple’s stand on allowing access to call logs and SMSs led to Trai hardening its stand and floating a consultation paper on privacy, security and ownership of data in the telecom sector in August 2017.