Apple likely headed to court over potential iPhone ban in India

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 9
The India government has refused Apple's request to exempt the iPhone from anti-spam laws regarding a mandatory anti-spam app, with the fight possibly ending up in the iPhone getting cut off from the country's cellular networks.




India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) is demanding that Apple install an official anti-spam app. Anti-spam apps exist now with more coming online after iOS 12 -- but India's official one demands access to the user's text message archive, and call logs.

Apple sent a letter to TRAI in mid-July about the matter, asking that India reconsider dropping noncompliant phones from the network. However, Apple's request was flatly denied by the group.

"The most appropriate way to challenge this is in court," TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma told Reuters.

Sharma has recently been re-appointed to the post through 2020, so a change in leadership which could potentially solve the problem won't happen before the cutoff date.

The regulation

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.

"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."

The regulation clearly mandates that Apple must provide access to the TRAI DND 2.0 app, or the regulator will 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.

As it stands, the TRAI Do Not Disturb app violates several rules in the App Store. In March, 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 change policy in this case.

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 Android owners since 2016.

Apple and India

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 the iPhone 6s with local partner Wistron.

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

  • Reply 1 of 29
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 982member
    I guess when you're in someone's house, you play by their rules. 

    Which includes going to court if Apple thinks their case is strong enough.
    [Deleted User]tmaynimpeachabletech
  • Reply 2 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,297member
    As in China money speaks louder than words. If Apple caves on this one too then Tim Cook’s bleating about privacy rings hollow. Stand your ground or take the money? You’ve already built a factory in India to placate the government. Which will it be, Mr. Cook? Why not just admit your privacy policies only work in mature Western democracies that have privacy rights in their constitutions? And even those are under attack in those democracies. 
    [Deleted User]anton zuykovgutengelmagman1979jony0
  • Reply 3 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,058member
    Note that IMO Apple does waffle a bit on "privacy" depending on the size of the market and the money to be made. In 2016 when China's government said Apple was going to be required to keep files on what AppStore apps an Apple customer downloaded or used and details about what how they used them, and all connected to the users real name and location, Apple said "Well okay then, we're good". Wasn't that violating Apple's standard privacy policies too? That's not even considering iCloud in China which is an entirely different level.

    India is a small enough market for Apple to "take a stand for privacy" apparently.

    You'll rarely if ever see me diss an Apple product. In general they make wonderfully designed and long lasting hardware. Support is industry leading, and even if Apple might not be 'first" with a feature or product they generally get it right. Like a lot of others I've bought a few Apple products over the years and currently still an Apple owner. I do have far less patience for what IMHO are clearly platitudes coming from them. 
    edited August 9 [Deleted User]muthuk_vanalingamCarnage
  • Reply 4 of 29
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
     Ban India!
    edited August 9 magman1979
  • Reply 5 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,528moderator
    It’s too bad there are absolutists when it comes to views on Apple’s stance on privacy and other issues that are often treated differently in some countries.  Apple doesn’t take the easy road, as Android apparently has on this demand by India.  Absolutists won’t acknowledge that Apple will engage in these issues where others simply fold.  And that’s exactly what Tim Cook has said all along.  

    Not a direct quote - I’m too lazy tonight to go find it - but he’s essentially said that ‘we don’t always agree with government policies in the countries in which we do business, but we feel it’s more productive to engage rather than take our ball and go home.’

    To engage doesn’t mean to take a billigerent and uncompromising stance and fight until you win or until you can’t win and then take your ball and go home.  To engage means to take a principled stance and argue for it in an attempt to persuade, and if you lose the fight you remain engaged so that you might have some influence down the road or on the next issue.  You become seen as a principled voice of reason and an engaged partner with your adversaries.  If you stick with it long enough, they might one day turn to you and ask, ‘what’s your advice on this upcoming proposed policy?’  A soft touch often has greater results than a hammer. 
    edited August 9 tmaymagman1979JWSCurahara
  • Reply 6 of 29
    peteopeteo Posts: 324member
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... Let the user decide in this case since the government wan'ts to "help" fight against spam. This is obliviously a special case but if a user is not required to install the app, then rather than be removed from the market let the user decide if they want to install it.
    jdgaz
  • Reply 7 of 29
    lkrupp said:
    As in China money speaks louder than words. If Apple caves on this one too then Tim Cook’s bleating about privacy rings hollow. Stand your ground or take the money? You’ve already built a factory in India to placate the government. Which will it be, Mr. Cook? Why not just admit your privacy policies only work in mature Western democracies that have privacy rights in their constitutions? And even those are under attack in those democracies. 
    That would be how a mature and good business does its thing, but the problem is that Cook and Apple have made a stance on political subjects before, creating a precedent and expectations that they do support particular issues everywhere. Of course in reality, they are simply unable to  support their own position and “walk the walk” in China or India. Now they either have to play in those countries by the rules rules, or walk the walk by not having a business in such countries. Neither is good for business. 
  • Reply 8 of 29
    peteo said:
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... 
    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    muthuk_vanalingammagman1979gutengelurahara
  • Reply 9 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,058member
    macmojo said:
    peteo said:
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... 
    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    You may well be correct. It wouldn't be the first time nor the last that Apple's principled stand in one country becomes "we obey the law in all countries in which we operate" with little (or no) mention of those principles. The pursuit of profits more often than not takes precedence, as it should. They're businesses.

    "...Courage!"
    edited August 9
  • Reply 10 of 29
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,830member
    I just find it funny that Spam calls and text is such a HUGE problem in this country that they want and need such a app and will go so far as to block phones without it. So many people around the world including the U.S. are getting scammed by their calls. It's pretty funny they they're scamming themselves also.
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 29
    It is so typical for US people to think that US companies should be able to dictate the laws. But this is not how it works.
    Rules and regulations are decided by country. If Apple wants to sell equipment then they have to obey the laws of that country.
    It does not matter if the government in that country applies the same principles or believes as Apple does.
    So it does not matter whether you agree or not with these rules.

    Apple can try to go to court in India to change the rules, but that will not be easy.
    Apple can decide that the iPhone will not be adapted and so they will not sell it anymore in India. But that is not helping Apple neither.

    So the best option for Apple will be to allow the app in India. I think the Apple store and users are linked anyhow to a country. So that should be possible. People in the rest of the world are not impacted by it. Also Indian people living abroad would not have to install the app.

    How the government will check or force that people in country must have the app is not easy. Most likely they will demand that the app is pre-installed. But then you might also be able to remove it.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    jbdragon said:
    I just find it funny that Spam calls and text is such a HUGE problem in this country that they want and need such a app and will go so far as to block phones without it. So many people around the world including the U.S. are getting scammed by their calls. It's pretty funny they they're scamming themselves also.
    Scam calls are much bigger problem in India than in US. Privacy laws are non-existent and regulations are sparse and rarely enforced... 'True-caller', a Chinese made spam blocking app which uploads your contacts list to Chinese servers is very popular here...
    edited August 9
  • Reply 13 of 29
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,767member
    macmojo said:
    peteo said:
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... 
    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    Excuse me, but what’s happening in India is totally democratic, in other words, the byproduct of being a democracy. The majority rules in a democracy. Individual rights are irrelevant.
    JWSC
  • Reply 14 of 29
    Why not write an Apple app so it’s Apple SW and then it won’t violate privacy if  it’s psrt of their own iOS tool pos —  this is sorely needed in every country especially the USA anyway a win win! Solved ? I
    mesn  doesn't Apple  know how to write its own SW any more?
    if too time consuming to write then buy the best sap developer that designs best  ubiquitous SW spam blocking app (and then it’s not a 3rd party app as well) time is of essence. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,229administrator
    Why not write an Apple app so it’s Apple SW and then it won’t violate privacy if  it’s psrt of their own iOS tool pos —  this is sorely needed in every country especially the USA anyway a win win! Solved ? I
    mesn  doesn't Apple  know how to write its own SW any more?
    if too time consuming to write then buy the best sap developer that designs best  ubiquitous SW spam blocking app (and then it’s not a 3rd party app as well) time is of essence. 
    You're missing the point. Apple doesn't allow distribution of Messages to anybody. TRAI demands that information, regardless of where the app is coming from.
    watto_cobraurahara
  • Reply 16 of 29
    macmojo said:
    peteo said:
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... 
    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    The app has been developed by the telecom regulator, which is an independent body. Your statement about the government inciting sectarian violence is absurd, irresponsible and completely false.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    macmojo said:
    peteo said:
    Is this just making the app available on the India app store, or must the app be installed on each iPhone sold in India?. To me if its just making the app available in the app store for a user to download I would say apple should allow the app and make message come up when the app is launched the first time that it wants access to your contacts, txt etc... 
    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    The app has been developed by the telecom regulator, which is an independent body. Your statement about the government inciting sectarian violence is absurd, irresponsible and completely false.
    Well, I am from India like you (just assuming based on your comment). And I agree with him mostly than yours. And I don't want a detailed political discussion over here on this topic, so I will just stop right here.
    urahara
  • Reply 18 of 29

    Fighting spam can be done without violating privacy. But regulations can be sometimes so brutal and totalitarian that it may be impossible for Apple to convince the regulators that the issue can be resolved otherwise. Why not export messages for example? But if the regulator says “I don’t know export. My app will read your messages, period.” a legal case may be very useful in such situations since it may include a thorough technical investigation of the conflict. If the regulators do not intend to listen this the only solution. It is a technical problem (of the law) to resolve and there is no need to draw political conclusions from that...

    edited August 9
  • Reply 19 of 29
    blah64blah64 Posts: 879member
    nunzy said:
     Ban India!
    AI: Can we just ban this account?

    I'm not sure nunzy has ever written a post that contributed in any way to the conversation.  They're all inane crap that appear to serve no purpose other than to increase a post count.  They don't (usually) cross the line into inflammatory or rule-breaking posts, but they're just one-liners with no thought put into them.  Over and over and over and over.  It almost makes me wonder if nunzy is a bot.

    Note that I wouldn't normally quote a garbage post, but in this case I actually do want others who have blocked this account to see the crap that's still coming in daily.  Blocking only works if you're signed in, and I'm very rarely signed into this account, but I read AI almost every day.
    edited August 10 nunzywatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamavon b7urahara
  • Reply 20 of 29
    blah64blah64 Posts: 879member


    macmojo said:

    The app is designed to view your call and message logs, not just your contacts. The BJP Indian government is a hard right Hindu nationalist one. As with all hard right groups and parties, they believe in no rights or freedoms other than their own. This government has incited sectarian violence to further its political aims and has begun to undermine democracy in a serious way by going after independent media and journalists (even deploying Trump's favourite catch phrase - "fake news"). 

    What they're trying to do here is lay the groundwork and put in place the basic infrastructure of a surveillance state, so they can monitor everyone, especially those opposed to them. Spam is just a cover for it.
    India is indeed setting up to be one of the strongest surveillance states, and their Aadhaar system clearly shows their intent.  Not only is it pervasive (over 1 Billion enrollees), but it includes biometrics (fingerprints, facial scans, iris scans), name, date of birth, address.  Because it is so widely used and required, data has been pushed out to many agencies, resulting in personal data actually being published by 210 different government web sites on the public internet.  There's lots to read about, and lots to be worried about, not the least of which is that other countries have expressed interest in adopting Aadhaar.

    Remember, as soon as data is collected en masse, it always, always, *ALWAYS* undergoes mission creep and ends up being used for all kinds of unintended purposes.  Like social security numbers in the U.S.  Like the data brokers and facebooks/googles of the world.  All large scale personally-identifiable data, once gathered, will eventually be repurposed, stolen, acquired by government orders or merely sold as part of changing business practices/goals.  It's simply too valuable in so many ways over the long run to think otherwise.

    There's a ton of info to read on Aadhaar.

    https://www.firstpost.com/india/aadhaar-privacy-debate-how-the-12-digit-number-went-from-personal-identifier-to-all-pervasive-transaction-tool-4308043.html

    https://www.firstpost.com/india/uidai-reveals-210-govt-websites-made-aadhaar-details-public-did-not-specify-when-breach-took-place-4217597.html

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/aadhaar-worlds-largest-biometric-database/538845

    and of course there's a bunch of info on wikipedia.

    edited August 10
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