Apple accused of 'anti-consumer' behaviour by Indian regulator

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has spoken out against Apple for refusing to cooperate on the implementation of a national Do-Not-Disturb app. Trai claims that Apple is making it hard for consumers to forward information about telemarketers, potential scams, and other unwanted electronic communication. Internet-based messaging services include WhatsApp and Hike.

The authority has suo-motu made a decision to come out with the consultation paper as it felt it was necessary to frame some guidelines regarding data protection and sharing of data with third party players.

Comments on the paper, which has a dozen questions aimed at identifying the scope and definition of personal data, ownership and control of data of users of telecom services and assessing the adequacy and efficiency of data protection measures now in place, have been sought by September 8 and counter-comments by September 22.

Once the process is completed, TRAI will issue recommendations to the telecommunications department, which, in turn, will take a final decision on implementation. This brings into question whether you truly have full access to your own information if there are restrictions on how you can use your own personal data. "There are also questions of jurisdiction that need to be answered".

Q. 11 What should be the legitimate exceptions to the data protection requirements imposed on TSPs and other providers in the digital ecosystem and how should these be designed? It governs carriage, not content/data. "The ownership should remain and shall remain with the consumer who produced the data", Sharma said.

Android users can easily install the "Do Not Disturb" (DND) application, However, the iPhone users are not able to access the app.

Trai said the availability of data has enhanced the business and efficiency potential of data analytics. In particular, what are the new capabilities that must be granted to consumers over the use of their Personal data? The first is Data Portability - the ability to extract all user data from a service, and share it with another- and the second is to create anonymized, public data sets, which can be used as a test bed by newer service providers.

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It also introduced the concept of data controllers - defined as "any organisation that determines the purposes and means of processing the personal information of users" - and sought comments on their rights, responsibilities and whether their rights supersede those of an individual over personal data.

Given the fears related to abuse of this data, is it advisable to create a technology enabled architecture to audit the use of personal data, and associated consent?

The app allows users to share details of "pesky" calls and spam messages with authorities and mobile service providers, who would then take action on the caller or sender.

In light of recent advances in technology, what changes, if any, are recommended to the definition of personal data? The app serves to block annoying unsolicited calls and texts, and TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma claimed Apple is engaging in "anti-consumer" actions by not approving it.

"The consultation will be on data security, ownership and data privacy in the telecom sector".

There have been issues about companies sharing data of customers to others, without the knowledge of the customer.

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