Bangalore, August 10 2017: The Chairman of India's Telecom Regulatory Authority, (TRAI), RS Sharma, used strong language two days ago, while accusing Apple of engaging in "data colonisation" in India and being "anti-consumer" by not allowing customers to pass on details about unwanted... calls and messages to authorities as well as their mobile operators.
Speaking to The Times of India, he said: " While Google's Android supports our Do-Not-Disturb (DND) app, Apple has just been discussing, discussing, and discussing. They have not done anything... They are anti-consumer and they are really not caring for their customers who could have been saved from pesky calls and unwanted messages.
He was quoted saying to Apple: "You (Apple) are violating the right of the user to willingly share his/her own data with the regulator or with any third party of his/her choice."
The TRAI Chairman took issue at the fact that iPhone users were prevented by Apple from reporting the number sending unsolicited messages or making pesky calls straight to Trai from the app, following which action could be taken.
In the aftermath of this Times story, The Week followed up with its own story entitled " TRAI rakes up data ownership issue with Apple". The writer, Saju Daniel, pointed out that this issue has cropped up at a time when a nine-judge Supreme Court bench is examining whether right to privacy is a fundamental right of an Indian citizen in the light of Aadhaar. He also included the following take on the issue, from IndiaTechOnline Editor, Anand Parthasarathy:
“The TRAI chairman's characterisation of Apple's policy with regard to sharing the call data of iPhone owners with third parties as 'data colonisation' is bizarre and over-the-top. Apple is strict about its approved apps accessing data of phone users who install them. This should in fact, be applauded. In India we seem to have a rather cavalier attitude about data privacy and the rights of phone owners and Internet users to their call habits and history—and sometimes well intentioned initiatives like DND may end up not meeting internationally accepted standards of privacy.”
"In fact since iOS 10, the Apple App store does offer a free call block app to block spam and fraud calls, called "Mr Number: Call Block and Reverse Lookup". Here is a link So to suggest that iPhone users in India are somehow unprotected is not correct", says Anand."
"Incidentally the DND 2.0 app available for Android users at Google Play seems to be a crude affair—as the outraged reaction of some user, that can be seen on the download page, seems to testify."