For the past few months, the debacle between the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and Apple has been on a constant rise over the issue of the Do Not Disturb app by TRAI. The matter has now escalated to serious levels, with TRAI looking to withdraw iPhone’s license from the country, if the revised rules and regulations are to be considered.
TRAI (source 1, 2, 3) has recently unveiled its revised regulations, under which any Access Provider will need to provide access to apps that are required by the regulations to be made available for installation on smartphone platforms. “Every Access Provider shall ensure, within six months’ time, that all smartphone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning of such Apps as prescribed in the regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d),” states the TRAI directive.
Adding to that, TRAI mentions, “Provided that where such devices do not permit functioning of such Apps as prescribed in regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d), access providers shall, on the order or direction of the authority, derecognize such devices from their telecom networks.”
The app in question here is the DND app 2.0 prescribed TRAI for all smartphone platforms in India. The telecom authority wants to have consumers have an option to filter and block all marketing as well as promotional calls. The app has been reported to require access to various parameters and information of the device, i.e. it detects calls or messages and helps TRAI collect data on who is sending them and for what purpose. While Google complied with TRAI’s directive by allowing the app on the Google PlayStore, rival Apple hasn’t allowed it on the App Store, citing the app’s requirement for access to the device information as a breach of user’s data privacy. While TRAI has been pursuing Apple to get the app on the App Store, Apple has stuck on its promise of safeguarding the user’s data, no matter what happens.
Under the new regulations, if Apple doesn’t comply with TRAI’s requirements within six months, then its complete range of iPhones will be banned in the country, i.e. all the carriers within the country will be asked to withdraw support of their services from the iPhone. This could lead to Apple losing out entirely on the smartphone front from the rivals. Additionally, it would cripple millions owning and depending solely on an iPhone as their daily driver.
Therefore, if Apple wants to keep its innings open in India, it will need to make an arrangement in which the both the government’s and the consumer’s interests stay protected. Apple is yet to make an official statement in this regard.