Apple and India’s telecom regulator TRAI are locking heads over the development of a government anti-spam mobile application. Apple had agreed to provide limited help to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to help build such an app by tapping in to new iOS features, which allow users to report unsolicited calls and text messages as spam.
Now, Reuters reports that Apple and TRAI have not met since November and the Indian telecom regulator told the technology giant in January that it was still waiting for “basic clarifications” on what features the iOS version in its app can offer. Apple is finding itself in a sticky foot with the development of anti-spam app affecting the privacy of its users.
Apple has been maintaining a stance that it is working with government engineers and would help the regulator design an app that does not breach user privacy and also not violate the rules of its App Store. However, that statement has irked R.S. Sharma, the head of he Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), who now plans to consult a legal team and push Apple to develop the app more swiftly.
“We will take appropriate legal action,” Sharma told Reuters in an interview. “This is unjust, it shows the approach and attitude of this company.”
TRAI had introduced the Android version of its ‘Do Not Disturb’ app in 2016 and it requires users to grant permissions to access contacts and view text messages when they open the app for the first time. The app then allows its users to report calls or text messages as spam.
TRAI was initially planning to repackage its Android app for Apple’s iOS as well, but Apple said it would not allow any selective app to access contacts, see call logs or view text messages. It stated that giving such access would mean violation of user data, security and privacy.
The tussle between Apple and TRAI comes at a crucial time as the Cupertino-based company tries to negotiate new ways to make inroads in the country. Apple, despite being the second largest smartphone brand globally, has little presence in the country. Apple is seeking to expand its local manufacturing and set up self-owned retail stores in India.
While Apple is yet to offer comments on Sharma’s claim, the legal battle could jeopardize the image of the regulator and slow down Apple’s expansion plans. India is one of the fastest growing smartphone maker and Apple can ill afford to lose it.