The most recent impasse comes after Apple in October agreed to offer some help to the operator to tap into new iOS characteristics to build the “Do Not Disturb” app, which permits users to report unsolicited calls and text messages as junk.
At issue has been Apple’s contention that permitting the app extensive accessibility to customers’ call and text logs could compromise privacy.
The arguments are the most recent example of challenges confronted by international technology players, that frequently must balance user privacy while managing requests from authorities and governments around access to articles on apparatus. In July, Apple removed apps from its Chinese App Shop that helped users browse the Internet privately in order to comply with a new cybersecurity law.
In India, despite October’s agreement, the two sides haven’t met since November, and also the Indian regulator advised Apple in January it had been still awaiting “fundamental clarifications” on what can the iOS version of its app provide, according to a government source with direct knowledge and an email market seen by Reuters.
Apple’s position, though, has irked the mind of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), R.S. Sharma, who says he’ll consult his legal staff on how Apple may be pushed to help develop the application more swiftly.
“That is unfair, it reveals the approach and attitude of the company.”
He didn’t elaborate on what action the regulator could take.
Apple did not remark on Sharma’s remarks, but stated that it shared TRAI’s aim of protecting customers from unwanted calls and messages.
Millions of Indians are inundated with telemarketing calls and other unsolicited text messages every day in the planet’s second-largest wireless telecoms market behind China.
The Android edition of TRAI’s “Don’t Disturb” program was released in 2016. When opened to the very first time, it requires users to give the program permissions to access contacts and see text messages and enables users to record them as spam.
Google has said keeping users’ data protected is its high priority and the company believes in “openness and in the capability of users to create purchasing and downloading choices without top-down enforcement or censorship”.
Apple said it wouldn’t modify its instructions to allow any app access to contacts, see call logs or view text messages as those functionalities violate a user’s data security and privacy.
TRAI’s Sharma disagrees. “Users should be responsible for this information,” he said.
Apple said it has offered to get its technical teams meet TRAI, but a government source said the regulator has been awaiting more details from the company before proceeding.
The tussle comes at a critical time for Apple since it looks to India as a key growth market where it is also in discussions to enlarge iPhone manufacturing.
TRAI has previously taken conclusions that have dented the plans of other technology giants. In 2015, it involves the suspension of Facebook’s pared-back free Internet service, Free Basics, and weeks after it dashed the organization’s plans by supporting web neutrality – a principle which says Internet service providers must deal with all traffic on their networks both – effectively barring the support.
Things could be harder in Apple’s case, nonetheless.
Any outright legal struggle by Sharma – a person who’s previously worked as the national IT secretary – is likely to be harder for TRAI to pursue since it directly governs only accredited telecom providers.
But Sharma could request the department of co – which he works closely together with – to invoke a decades-old law which enables the government to enforce regulations even on handset makers, according to two Indian lawyers who specialize in tech policy.
“It’s very likely to be a public relations battle against Apple instead of a legal one,” said Kunal Bajaj, a former TRAI adviser.