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Apple may take legal action against TRAI over iPhone ban

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Apple is not taking TRAI’s new regulation lying down. The authority wants telecom operators to derecognize devices which don’t support its anti-spam Do Not Disturb (DND) app. This is a major issue for iPhone owners, since Apple has refused to let the app into the App Store ever since it came out back in 2016.

Apple officials are reportedly considering legal action against TRAI. Industry insiders told the Economic Times that the authority can’t force carriers to take any action which is beyond their scope like banning handsets from their network. A person familiar with the iPhone maker’s thinking thinks the implementation of the new ruling by operators is invalid from the outset.

Apple vs TRAI

This makes sense, since asking telecom firms to remove people from their network just because their smartphone doesn’t support an app is ridiculous. It’s not clear if they even have the legal authority to do so. The Indian Cellular Association is accusing TRAI of trying to indirectly do something which it can’t do directly.

TRAI is hitting back at these accusations by pointing out that elements of the equipment which affects the performance of the network or the experience of users can be regulated by TRAI. This is a weak explanation for its new ruling though. Banning iPhone users from their network over an app they may or may not want doesn’t help them in any way.

The move comes across more as a strong-arm tactic to force Apple to bend to its will than a legitimate way to help consumers. As it stands, the DND app on the Play Store has a measly 2.6 rating, with some accusing the app of breaching user privacy. That’s exactly Apple’s problem with it. It says the app is in violation of its privacy policy since call and text logs are required.

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It seems Apple was taken by surprise by the new regulation. It had already told TRAI that iOS 12 would allow DND to function in iPhones. TRAI chairman RS Sharma was even quoted as saying that it was looking into whether the software will enable the functional requirements for DND.

Something appears to have gone wrong in the days since. It looks like Apple will have a fight on its hands and TRAI won’t back down without a struggle.