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After a Long Battle with India's Telecom Regulatory Authority, Apple agrees to Develop a custom Anti-Spam App

1 cover R S SHARMA regulatory authority


In early September Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Shuts out the India Government's Anti-Spam App in the Apple Store & the Government's Anger over it is Growing." The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has been trying unsuccessfully to get its Do Not Disturb software included in the App Store. The program lets people share spam call and text message logs with the agency, which uses the data to alert mobile operators to block the spammers. Apple has said the app violates its privacy policy, according to the regulator. Bloomberg noted at the time that the standoff could impact Apple's efforts to expand in India.


Today we're learning that Apple has now agreed to give limited assistance to the Indian Government to develop an anti-spam mobile app for its iOS platform.


Reuter's report notes that "Facing public criticism from the regulator, Apple executives flew to New Delhi last month and told officials the company would help develop the app, but only with limited capabilities, according to a government official aware of the matter.


Apple's executives have told India that its current iOS platform might not allow for some of the government's requests, such as making call logs available within the app that would allow users to report them as spam, the official said.


An Apple spokesman confirmed that the new iOS features to combat spam text messages would help the government build the app, but did not comment on the app's potential inability to access call logs for reporting spam, as the Android version does. The spokesman said Apple had not changed its stance on privacy.


The chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) R.S. Sharma, who is shown in our cover graphic, said he was unhappy with Apple for not responding swiftly to the government's requests.Sharma stated that Apple is "adopting dilatory tactics. They've had meetings, meetings and meetings."


Reuters stated that "Apple did not comment on TRAI's criticism, but said that it had taken time to develop a privacy-friendly solution.


Apple's senior director for global privacy Jane Horvath. and other Apple executives met TRAI officials in October and conveyed they would help them develop the first version of the app with limited features.


Neil Shah of Hong Kong-based technology research firm Counterpoint Research told Reuters that "This has now become more of an ego tussle between Apple and the regulator," adding that Apple was unlikely to agree to any requests specific to India because of the precedent that would set." For more on this, read the full Reuters report here.


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