Apple cooperation on India's 'Do Not Disturb' iPhone app torpedoed over privacy concerns

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 27
Despite nominally coming to an agreement to help India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) with an iPhone version of its "Do Not Disturb" app, Apple has effectively stopped cooperating, a report indicated on Tuesday.




The two parties haven't met since November, and in January the government told Apple it was still waiting on "basic clarifications" of what an iPhone port of "Do Not Disturb" might offer, Reuters said, citing both a government source and an email conversation it viewed.

Last week Apple told Reuters that "as envisioned [the app] violates the privacy policy" of the App Store, but that it was working with government engineers and will "continue discussing ways they can design their app to keep users' personal data safe."

An Android version of "Do Not Disturb" has been available since 2016, and lets people combat telemarketers and other unwanted calls and texts by reporting them as spam. To do this, though, it asks for permission to access contacts and read text messages.

While it's possible for iOS apps to read contacts, App Store rules prevent third-party titles from seeing call logs or text messages. Apple has previously said it wouldn't budge on those guidelines.

The company has offered to have technical teams meet with TRAI, but a government source told Reuters that the latter is still waiting on details from Apple before moving ahead.

TRAI head R.S. Sharma has been a vocal critic of Apple's position, arguing that users should be in control of their data. He is now threatening "appropriate legal action" to get the company to accelerate development.

"This is unjust, it shows the approach and attitude of this company," he remarked.

TRAI can only directly regulate telecom firms, but it could ask India's department of telecommunications to use an existing law allowing the government to impose regulations on cellphone makers.

Apple may be keen to avoid upsetting the Indian government, since it currently manufactures some iPhones there with plans for more, and more importantly can't afford to lose grip on a market of over 1.3 billion people. The company has been working towards the goal of local Apple stores.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    I believe Apple should just promote 3rd party solutions like Truecaller instead of working with idiots in government. 
    We have seen what Facebook does with Android call & message logs.
    edited March 27 StrangeDaysSpamSandwichwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 14
    I believe Apple should just promote 3rd party solutions like Truecaller instead of working idiots in government. 
    We have seen what Facebook does with Android call & message logs.
    I use Truecaller and it's saved me answering countless times by automatically identifying and flagging known spam numbers - I don't believe it has access to my contacts or messages (unlike the android version) - it works off a database of user submitted information afaik. Surely the Indian system could do the same.
  • Reply 3 of 14
    adm1 said:
    I believe Apple should just promote 3rd party solutions like Truecaller instead of working idiots in government. 
    We have seen what Facebook does with Android call & message logs.
    I use Truecaller and it's saved me answering countless times by automatically identifying and flagging known spam numbers - I don't believe it has access to my contacts or messages (unlike the android version) - it works off a database of user submitted information afaik. Surely the Indian system could do the same.
    Exactly.I hate it when unelected  bureaucrats think they know better than consumers .
    longpathSpamSandwichwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 14
    Either that or it is just thinly veiled state sponsored domestic spying at its heart. 
    racerhomie3longpathwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 14
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,521member
    No one likes annoying SPAM calls. VOIP like Nettalk,etc allow you to block numbers in account so Telcos can do the same to allow to block numbers. There should be some mechanism/feature/App where you list those SPAM phone numbers which someone calls than responds with standard legal message "Do not Call me otherwise legal action will be taken" that if 3rd time the call is made than the receiver can go to small court setup by government to prove from call logs that the calls were made after blocking it and automatically receives very high amount from caller. This can easily stops SPAM when thousands of people sue the caller. Without some kind of tough consequences, SPAM will not stop. How many phone numbers you keep blocking unless caller knows he/she will pay very high price of keep calling someone when receiver don't want you.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    wood1208 said:
    No one likes annoying SPAM calls. VOIP like Nettalk,etc allow you to block numbers in account so Telcos can do the same to allow to block numbers. There should be some mechanism/feature/App where you list those SPAM phone numbers which someone calls than responds with standard legal message "Do not Call me otherwise legal action will be taken" that if 3rd time the call is made than the receiver can go to small court setup by government to prove from call logs that the calls were made after blocking it and automatically receives very high amount from caller. This can easily stops SPAM when thousands of people sue the caller. Without some kind of tough consequences, SPAM will not stop. How many phone numbers you keep blocking unless caller knows he/she will pay very high price of keep calling someone when receiver don't want you.
    In South East Asia & Africa Truecaller does this . I would not like government interference in this.
    Even if you do not use 3rd party apps, you can manually block annoying numbers by pressing the (i) icon in phone & messages app and pressing block this caller.
    edited March 27 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 7 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,041member
    adm1 said:
    I believe Apple should just promote 3rd party solutions like Truecaller instead of working idiots in government. 
    We have seen what Facebook does with Android call & message logs.
    I use Truecaller and it's saved me answering countless times by automatically identifying and flagging known spam numbers - I don't believe it has access to my contacts or messages (unlike the android version) - it works off a database of user submitted information afaik. Surely the Indian system could do the same.
    https://support.truecaller.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004762309-Why-is-Contact-access-needed-and-is-my-phonebook-shared-

    "Top spammers and the call tab cannot function without "Contact Access" on your iPhone.

    Their privacy policy is also a good read for those that haven't done so, and IMHO that would apply to most. There is a LOT of stuff in there and you really should read it before signing up. 
    https://www.truecaller.com/privacy-policy
    edited March 27 anton zuykovmuthuk_vanalingamdysamoriajony0
  • Reply 8 of 14
    Sharma has called Apple's leaders "anti-consumer," because they "are violating the right of the user to willingly share his/her own data ... why should it not be allowed?" Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? But what it means in practice is that the app can vacuum up enormous quantities of activity data, most of it from people who don't even know it's happening, much less have they really agreed to it, as long as somewhere in the fine print (which 99.99% of users don't read) it says something to the effect that by using this app, you consent to share your data! Apple has never allowed crap like that, and I don't think they're going to start now, even if Sharma compares them to British colonial rule (which he has).
    watto_cobradysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 14
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,184member
    I wish Apple offered built-in call protection
    bonobobdysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,041member
    Soli said:
    I wish Apple offered built-in call protection
    My daily driver phone came with built-in call protection provided by Hiya and on the user boards it gets good marks from those using it. 

    You might find this silly but while I'm comfortable with what Google does with whatever data they've harvested from me I'm far LESS comfortable with some of the 3rd party apps like that one and TruCaller. When you look at what they're collecting and how they're getting it with no clear idea what purposes they have for it I just can't do it.

    With Google I expect ads ( if I wasn't blocking 'em... oops ) but really don't know with these caller ID apps where the data ends up.
    edited March 27 jony0
  • Reply 11 of 14
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,184member
    gatorguy said:
    Soli said:
    I wish Apple offered built-in call protection
    My daily driver phone came with built-in call protection provided by Hiya and on the user boards it gets good marks from those using it. 

    You might find this silly but while I'm comfortable with what Google does with whatever data they've harvested from me I'm far LESS comfortable with some of the 3rd party apps like that one and TruCaller. When you look at what they're collecting and how they're getting it with no clear idea what purposes they have for it I just can't do it.

    With Google I expect ads ( if I wasn't blocking 'em... oops ) but really don't know with these caller ID apps where the data ends up.
    I know the Hiya app for iPhone plugs into the call app nicely, but I don't want to give it access to my Contacts since I keep a lot of personal info in them, and its utility drops considerably when it can't use that to cross-reference, which is why I'd like Apple to support it natively.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 14
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,207member

    TRAI head R.S. Sharma has been a vocal critic of Apple's position, arguing that users should be in control of their data. He is now threatening "appropriate legal action" to get the company to accelerate development. 

    So we can add to “War is Peace', 'Freedom is Slavery' and 'Ignorance is Strength'.” 

    How about a slogan like “greater user control through government surveillance”.


    dysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 14
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,207member
    All that is needed is an opt in to a system where the carriers are required to prevent telemarketing calls going to a number put on a government list. Only the carriers have access. Anything more is surveillance.
    edited March 27 dysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 14
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,776member
    entropys said:
    All that is needed is an opt in to a system where the carriers are required to prevent telemarketing calls going to a number put on a government list. Only the carriers have access. Anything more is surveillance.
    Thing is, telecoms want the business. If you kill off spam phone calls, you cut into their profits.
    jony0
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