Regulator slams Apple for 'anti-consumer' behavior


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday floated a consultation paper seeking views on privacy, security and ownership of data in the telecom sector, which would also look at user data held by smartphone manufacturers from those using such devices.

ET was the first to report in its edition on Wednesday that Trai would come out with a consultation paper on data.

The Trai chief said another issue that needs to be debated is about the rights on the data that is being generated by a customer.

As reported by The Times of India, the country's regulatory body is extremely unhappy with the way Apple is dragging its feet. The input will then be used to create recommendations for the Ministry of Telecommunications, who will then take the final decision. 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. Sharma said. "This is what we call data colonization".

"The questions posed by the Trai paper are very broad and the risk is that of over-regulating an industry where technological changes and innovation can rapidly make any regulation outdated", said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, a grouping of operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

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Replying to a specific question on Apple not supporting the TRAI's app, Sharma said that "be it any store, my primary question is who has the right over that data...and can a third party...a store owner... The ownership should remain and shall remain with the consumer who produced the data". It also sought views on new capabilities to be granted to consumers over the use of personal data.

The regulator's app allows users to flag pesky calls and unsolicited messages directly to the regulator as it pulls out such details from messages and call logs.

In light of recent advances in technology, what changes, if any, are recommended to the definition of personal data?

This comes at a time when the Trai is embroiled in a row with a major smartphone manufacturer over the latter not allowing a do not disturb app by the regulator to gain access the user data.

TRAI pointed out that the growth in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices also raises concerns about the nature and extent of data being collected by these devices, the objective for which it can be used and the security of these devices. Trai will also identify key issues pertaining to data protection in relation to the delivery of digital services. This includes the provision of telecom and Internet services by telecom and Internet service providers (TSPs) as well the other devices, networks and applications that connect with users through the services offered by TSPs and collect and control user data in that process.