Apple Faces Potential Legal Threat From Indian Regulator Over Noncompliance With Anti-Spam iPhone App

by

Just a few days after Bloomberg revealed Apple's revamped India strategy, including changes that the company hopes will boost its lackluster smartphone market share in the country, a report by Reuters today has pointed out another hurdle for Apple's India plan.

The new report concerns Apple's work with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the development of an anti-spam iPhone app, which dates back nearly two years. Indian users constantly have to deal with spam phone calls, leading to the government's decision to build its own smartphone app that would let users mark and report spam callers.

iphones india flag
Reuters previously reported in March that work on the app was deadlocked as Apple continuously raised concerns over the privacy implications of allowing the app broad access to customers' calls and text logs. Following months of Apple pointing out privacy loopholes in the app -- which has been available on Android in India since 2016 -- TRAI last month threatened Apple by stating that its smartphones could be "derecognized" from the country's networks.

This means that while iPhones would still be available for purchase in India, users would not be able to connect to any supported cellular network and would lose many of the features that they likely purchased the iPhone for. TRAI's derecognition threat was specified in a letter sent to Indian telecom firms over the summer, notifying the firms that TRAI would give them six months notice to derecognize devices from their networks if the phones in question do not support the anti-spam app.

With that ticking clock looming for Apple, the company recently asked for the clause about derecognition to be removed:

“We look forward to working with TRAI to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communications, while simultaneously ensuring that we fully honor our commitment to protect the privacy and security of our users,” Apple’s head of public policy in India, Kulin Sanghvi, wrote in the letter which was seen by Reuters.

In response to Apple's own letter, TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma said that derecognition could not be "quashed or challenged" by writing a letter, and suggested the disagreement between the two could end up in court:

“The most appropriate way to challenge this is in court,” he said.

As of now, no legal action has yet been taken by either side. The drama over the anti-spam app is just one of numerous headaches for Apple in India, in the past few months including ever-increasing taxes on imported smartphones, rising iPhone prices because of such taxes, and user frustration with poor Apple services.

According to people familiar with the company's plans, its new strategy in India includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, "overhauling" the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services "aimed more closely at Indians." The company is said to focus specifically on Apple Maps in the services area with a "revamped" version of the app coming to Indian users by 2020.

Tag: India

Top Rated Comments

whyamihere Avatar
30 months ago
The irony of India complaining about spam calls is not lost on me. :rolleyes:
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TimmeyCook Avatar
30 months ago
Apple, drop India.

Not worth the effort.

The pissing contest with google is just not worth it, because they'll never sell anything there, the average Indian is 2x poorer than the average Chinese and Google and Microsoft love to dump money in that country without any ROI.

People that still want the iPhone are people that will be okay in smuggling them for cheaper than retail.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheShadowKnows! Avatar
30 months ago
"Apple continuously raised concerns over the privacy implications of allowing the app broad access to customers' calls and text logs."

Noted. Commendable! Kudos! Atta-boy!

But, but, but... What about China?
Is such concern ameliorated given the potential profit derived off the Chinese marketplace?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjtyork Avatar
30 months ago
I get a crap ton of those stupid robo calls as well. I really wish Siri would answer unknown callers, find out what they want, and then shoot me a text to ask if I want to answer it and take a message when I say no.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
30 months ago

Apple should bet instead in Europe, and mainly the Eastern Europe. That's where the people that can actually afford iPhones and use them as smartphones are meant.

Nice elitist attitude you have you there. So basically what your saying is "F*** poor people."?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
30 months ago

Is having an iPhone a human right?

Nice dodge. We're not talking human rights but your pompous attitude that somehow people who can't afford iPhones are less than those who can. Your quote was "That's where the people that can actually afford iPhones and use them as smartphones are meant" So somehow people in India are lesser people because they can't afford iPhones as opposed to people in Europe who can?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

0 Deals Hero

Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Deals to Plan For

Saturday November 21, 2020 10:00 am PST by
In the lead-up to Black Friday next week, we've been putting a spotlight on the best deals coming from various retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. In an effort to further prepare our readers for the best Black Friday deals, we're breaking down what we think should be on your radar for Black Friday in 2020. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
m1 mac mini vignette

Apple Lists M1-Based Mac Mini Logic Boards With 10 Gigabit Ethernet in Internal Parts Ordering System

Friday November 20, 2020 9:32 am PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M1 chip is only available with Gigabit Ethernet, Apple has listed multiple M1-based Mac mini logic boards with 10 Gigabit Ethernet in an internal parts list for Apple Authorized Service Providers. For every Mac mini logic board with Gigabit Ethernet in the parts list, obtained by MacRumors, there is a corresponding logic board with 10 Gigabit Ethernet:...
new m1 chip

Craig Federighi: Native Windows on M1 Macs is 'Really up to Microsoft'

Friday November 20, 2020 11:57 am PST by
Following the release of the M1 Macs Apple executives have been doing interviews with a range of publications, and today, Ars Technica published another interview with software engineering chief Craig Federighi, hardware technologies lead Johny Srouji, and marketing VP Greg Joswiak. Much of the interview focuses on topics that the three have already covered in prior discussions, but there is ...
14

Apple Releases iOS 14.2.1 With Fix for Text Message Bug and iPhone 12 Mini Lock Screen Issues

Thursday November 19, 2020 10:16 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 14.2.1, a bug fix update that comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 14.2 and is available for Apple's new iPhone 12 models. The iOS 14.2.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's release notes, iOS...
Walmart November Deals Hero

Black Friday Spotlight: Walmart Will Have AirPods Pro Down to Lowest Price of $169, and More Apple Deals

Thursday November 19, 2020 8:05 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Walmart. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Next ...
apple leather sleeve

Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models Now Available From Apple

Friday November 20, 2020 12:16 pm PST by
Apple today began selling the Leather Sleeve for the new iPhone 12 models, with the accessory having first been announced alongside the updated iPhones in October. Priced at $129, the Leather Sleeve is not a case and is designed to be removed when the iPhone is in use. It features a cutout at the front that displays the time, and it comes with a matching leather strap. According to Apple, it ...
iOS14AntitrackFacebookSadfeature

Apple Confirms Commitment to App Tracking Transparency in Letter Condemning Facebook's Data Collection [Updated]

Thursday November 19, 2020 11:58 am PST by
Apple in iOS 14 is planning to introduce a new App Tracking Transparency feature that will let users know when companies want to track them across apps and website. Following outcry from developers like Facebook and ad networks unprepared for the change, Apple delayed the implementation of the anti-tracking functionality until early 2021. Eight civil society organizations recently sent a...
maxresdefault

CrossOver Allows x86 Windows Apps to Run on Apple M1 Macs

Wednesday November 18, 2020 6:07 pm PST by
Codeweavers posted a blog post and video tonight showing off CrossOver running on an Apple M1 MacBook Air. This video shows Team Fortress 2 running on a new M1 MacBook Air: CrossOver is software (based on Wine Project) that runs Microsoft Windows apps on the Mac by translating Windows APIs into their Mac equivalents. The Codeweavers team was able to run the current version of CrossOver on...
macbookpro13large

Apple Offers Instructions on What to Do if macOS Big Sur Causes Installation Errors on 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro

Thursday November 19, 2020 6:12 pm PST by
Following the release of macOS Big Sur last week, a number of 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro owners found that the update bricked their machines. Affected users saw their Macs get stuck displaying a black screen after attempting to install the new software. Apple has now addressed this issue in a new support document that provides instructions on what to do if macOS Big Sur can't be installed on...
128gb m1 macbook air education cropped

$799 M1 MacBook Air With 128GB Storage for Education Institutions Spotted Online

Friday November 20, 2020 5:15 am PST by
A new configuration of the M1 MacBook Air with 128GB of storage and a lower $799 price has today been spotted on Apple's U.S. Education Institution Hardware and Software Price List. The M1 MacBook Air is only available with 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage. There is currently no 128GB configuration on the Apple Store. However, Reddit user "u/dduci97" noticed that Apple has listed...