Apple-TRAI tussle: Apple to help government develop DND iOS app
Apple has finally agreed to provide "limited help" to TRAI for developing DND (Do-Not-Disturb) app for its iOS platform, after a one-year-long battle over the regulator's anti-spam app. The tech giant earlier refused to help TRAI citing user privacy concerns. The regulator said Apple has been "dragging its feet" on helping it develop the app to curb unsolicited calls/messages on iPhones. Read more!
New iOS features may not help DND app
After being criticized, Apple's executives came to India in October and informed TRAI that they would help in developing the app with "limited capabilities." Apple told officials that its latest iOS version might not allow some of TRAI's requests like in-app availability of call logs to report spam. Apple's spokesman confirmed the same but also stated that Apple's stance on user privacy remains unchanged.
Unhappy with Apple for not responding swiftly: TRAI Chairman
TRAI Chairman RS Sharma expressed his unhappiness over Apple's delayed response to its requests, adding that Apple's own customers are being harmed. Counterpoint Research's Neil Shah said the issue has become "an ego tussle" between Apple and TRAI. Apple's stand-off with TRAI comes amidst its efforts to have greater access in India as it seeks tax breaks to expand its device assembly operations here.
About TRAI's Do Not Disturb mobile app
TRAI initially launched the DND initiative to block unsolicited calls/messages; users could register by texting to 1909. Bolstering its DND service, the telecom regulator launched the Do-Not-Disturb mobile app in Aug'16. The app procures information from the phone records, enabling customers to report the numbers sending such messages/calls straight from the app. The version 2.0 for the app was rolled out in Jun'17.
Apple cites privacy issues; doesn't list DND in app-store
Unwanted calls and unsolicited SMSes from telemarketers, spammers, and scammers are a huge problem in India. So, TRAI launched DND mobile app to reduce the menace of unsolicited calls/SMS. However, iOS users in India cannot yet download it whereas its Android version has been downloaded over 100,000 times. The app seeks permission to access SMS, call logs, contacts, etc. for reporting spam.
DND doesn't raise any privacy concerns: TRAI
Apple executives, TRAI officials met at least seven times
Several Apple overseas executives arrived in India to resolve DND app dispute with TRAI, including its Senior Director for Global Privacy, Jane Horvath, a former Google executive. Apple executives and TRAI met at least seven times and exchanged dozens of emails over the past one year. Last month, Apple met and informed officials that they would help TRAI develop an app with limited features.
TRAI on Apple's meetings
In September, TRAI told Apple: "The whole exercise in organizing the proposed meeting would be a waste of resources...please share concrete solutions that have a likelihood of addressing the issues we have been discussing." TRAI Chief RS Sharma said Apple is "adopting dilatory tactics."