TRAI anti-spam app rules could force iPhones off Indian phone networks

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple's reluctance to allow a spam-reporting iOS app from India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) onto the App Store may be bad news to its customers, after the regulator introduced a new policy that could force carriers to ban iPhones from their mobile networks if the app isn't accepted.




The new "Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference" regulation intends to cut down the number of nuisance or fraudulent calls in India, as well as unwanted marketing text messages and other spam. Part of the regulations overhaul is a requirement for carriers to allow customers to download a "Do Not Disturb" app to their devices to help combat spam, including reporting violations and setting subscription preferences for messages.

Spotted by India Today, the regulation also includes language that could affect user's devices if the app is not allowed to be downloaded.

"Every access provider shall ensure, within six months' time, that all smart phone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning of such apps," the regulation states. "Provided that where such devices do not permit functioning of such apps, Access Providers shall, on the order or direction of the Authority, derecognize such devices from their telecom networks."

While not directly targeting Apple, the language of the regulation effectively means that Apple must provide access to the TRAI DND 2.0 app, or else the regulator could order carriers in the country to remove iPhones from its network. As TRAI can directly regulate carriers but not device vendors, this is one of relatively few ways the regulator can try to penalize smartphone makers like Apple.

So far, Apple has been reluctant to add the Do Not Disturb app to the App Store, and while at one point the company was collaborating with the regulator, it became apparent in March that the app would not be allowed in the store at all. At the time, Apple advised the app "violates the privacy policy" of the App Store, but insisted it was working with government engineers and discussing ways the app could be designed to "keep user's personal data safe."

Under the App Store rules, third-party apps are not allowed to see call logs or text messages, but are able to access saved contacts. Apple has previously advised it would not bend its policy in this case, for the sake of user privacy.

While Apple is refusing to allow the app to be used on iPhones in the country, the same cannot be said for other smartphone producers. The Do Not Disturb app has been available to download to Android devices since 2016.

India is an important country for Apple's growth, with the iPhone SE produced in the region for sale to the local market. In June, it was reported Apple had started commercial production of a second iPhone model with local partner Wistron, with the iPhone 6s apparently destined to be sold in the country.

Despite the production efforts, Apple is apparently struggling to improve iPhone sales, and recently lost three executives working in the country.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,485member
    Sounds like a sneaky way of a government forcing spyware onto everyone's phone. Sadly I suspect this is just the beginning. Once one has it all countries will push this "for your protection".
    edited July 2018 racerhomie3muthuk_vanalingammagman1979repressthisanton zuykovapres587watto_cobralamboaudi4longpathphillipd76
  • Reply 2 of 32
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,169member
    Indian government(also all government bodies) is total trash. It should be an option, not law for this. They want to spy on citizens. They  are even coming after WhatsApp encryption .
    edited July 2018 magman1979watto_cobralongpath
  • Reply 3 of 32
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple should ban India first, before India bans Apple.
    repressthisJWSClongpathphillipd76
  • Reply 4 of 32
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Based on Apple complying with Chinese government policy, I would expect that they will likewise capitulate to Indian government mandates as well. 
    longpath
  • Reply 5 of 32
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,169member
    mac_128 said:
    Based on Apple complying with Chinese government policy, I would expect that they will likewise capitulate to Indian government mandates as well. 
    Apple  fights back as hard as it can .
  • Reply 6 of 32
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,593member
    There must be some defence against regulators dictating UX with “apps” rather than stipulating and enforcing policy via system requirements.  As iOS already meets the intentions justifying the app, any enforcement of a third party app shows this as a national security straw man.
    repressthiswatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamJWSClongpath
  • Reply 7 of 32
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,879member
    Indian government(also all government bodies) is total trash. It should be an option, not law for this. They want to spy on citizens. They  are even coming after WhatsApp encryption .
    I think it is about availability of the app on the App Store, not that it must be bloatware preinstalled on Indian iPhones.  So far.
    There is more to this though. It seems the app is not complaint with App Store rules because of how it handles your information.
    India has always a bit prone to impose rules on its citizens like any other country floundering from too much socialism and crony corruption, but do not think western countries are far behind. I’ve been around a while now and I am astonished how willing the youth of today are to allow government to insert itself into their lives, be it food or lifestyle choices, even thoughts and what you can be allowed to say. And there is the ever growing armies of regulatory agencies, a new priesthood keen to exert their pious will. For our own good of course. Parasites that will kill the host.

    This lot seem a good example. Who doesn’t want to be bothered by annoying telemarketers? Sounds good, but what else is the app doing? Why must it operate the way the regulator wants it to, which it seems is not complaint with Apple’s privacy rules? And why does the regulator have the right to force an entity that does not indulge in telemarketing to do something about it? Classic overreach by priesthood regulators. For our own good comrades.
    chasmwatto_cobraelijahg
  • Reply 8 of 32
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,339member
    When I first heard about this story I was curious as to what possible objection Apple could have to an app that will help track down spammers and spammers (many of whom, it has to be said, originate within India itself!). Now that I’ve read the article, I have a much better understanding of the underlying issue.

    While I doubt the government of India is anything but sincere in its attempt to reduce unwanted email/texts/calls, the potential for abuse with this app approach — compared to the privacy-respecting “block this caller/text sender” function already in iPhones now — is high. While it’s a bit more work, the US and other governments already have systems in place to fight nuisance calls, nuisance texts, and spammers, and there has been progress. I hope Apple can find a way to get the Indian government to understand the issue, but given their sales in the country — it might be necessary to call their bluff and pull up stakes in India if the government won’t work with them on a privacy-respecting solution.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,949member
    Apple has a problem. If it complies with government regulations, it’s in trouble, if it doesnt, it’s in trouble
    watto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 32
    Nice way to catch the scammer. Thanks for sharing. 
  • Reply 11 of 32
    sreesree Posts: 138member
    mcdave said:
    There must be some defence against regulators dictating UX with “apps” rather than stipulating and enforcing policy via system requirements.  As iOS already meets the intentions justifying the app, any enforcement of a third party app shows this as a national security straw man.
    The problem the government has is with Apple not allowing the app in the App Store.

    It is not mandatory to install the app.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 295member
    I wish Apple would provide much more robust functionality for stopping spam and scam calls and messages as part of iOS.  If what they provided was better, this whole issue would be moot.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 756member
    Apple should write it’s own app, which allows the user complete control over how it works. 

    An an example might be the Health app, which collects vast amount of personal data. Such an app for spam can collect the information, and the user can decide what if any data is sent, on a voluntary bases to regulators. 
  • Reply 14 of 32
    Mr. Cook tear down this wall!
  • Reply 15 of 32
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,949member
    bonobob said:
    I wish Apple would provide much more robust functionality for stopping spam and scam calls and messages as part of iOS.  If what they provided was better, this whole issue would be moot.
    It’s hard to do that. Here’s how I do it. My ISP is Verizon Fios. I set the spam filters there to catch obvious spamming. Then that’s sent to my e-mail address provider, usa.net. I’d do finer filtering there, based on what gets through the first defense. Then, I do the final on my machines at home, to catch the now small number that do arrive. I get about 100 legit emails a day, and about one or two spams that get through the filters.

    but that’s a lot of work. One level of filtering turns out to be too coarse, or catches too many legit emails.
    edited July 2018
  • Reply 16 of 32
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 730member
    larryjw said:
    Apple should write it’s own app, which allows the user complete control over how it works. 

    An an example might be the Health app, which collects vast amount of personal data. Such an app for spam can collect the information, and the user can decide what if any data is sent, on a voluntary bases to regulators. 
    Or can build functionality into iOS directly. Let the users choose which blocking list to use. Then would be evident what is Indian"s government aim. Spammers or spying. 
    edited July 2018
  • Reply 17 of 32
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,015member
    chasm said:
    When I first heard about this story I was curious as to what possible objection Apple could have to an app that will help track down spammers and spammers (many of whom, it has to be said, originate within India itself!). Now that I’ve read the article, I have a much better understanding of the underlying issue.

    While I doubt the government of India is anything but sincere in its attempt to reduce unwanted email/texts/calls, the potential for abuse with this app approach — compared to the privacy-respecting “block this caller/text sender” function already in iPhones now — is high. While it’s a bit more work, the US and other governments already have systems in place to fight nuisance calls, nuisance texts, and spammers, and there has been progress. I hope Apple can find a way to get the Indian government to understand the issue, but given their sales in the country — it might be necessary to call their bluff and pull up stakes in India if the government won’t work with them on a privacy-respecting solution.
    This sounds like a great thing to have but preferable you Apple would make it.  Potential danger for one political party to block another.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,949member
    So far, we haven’t seen the Indian government being that interested in tracking its people as the Chinese have. While it’s a crazy country, politically (though ours is getting closer right now) when compared to most western countries, it’s a democratic one, though with its own problems. But the rule of law there varies considerably depending in which state you live in. I do believe the government is doing something that they believe will help. 
  • Reply 19 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    What happened to India being the world’s largest “democracy”? Shouldn’t junk like this be put to a national vote?
  • Reply 20 of 32
    melgross said:
    So far, we haven’t seen the Indian government being that interested in tracking its people as the Chinese have. While it’s a crazy country, politically (though ours is getting closer right now) when compared to most western countries, it’s a democratic one, though with its own problems. But the rule of law there varies considerably depending in which state you live in. I do believe the government is doing something that they believe will help. 
    I am from India, so I will make a brief comment on this. The current government DOES believe in Chinese way of a surveillance state and trying its best to bring in various laws that would enable them to create a surveillance state. Hopefully it gets voted out in next year's polls, else we will be fast tracked into a surveillance state in the next decade.
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