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iPhones may get deactivated in India over TRAI-Apple feud

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Apple and TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) have been locked in a fierce battle for a couple of years now and it looks like iPhone users could face the brunt of the consequences. As per a new regulation released by TRAI, the authority will force telecom operators to derecognize iPhones from their network.

This whole mess started back in 2016 when TRAI came out with a Do Not Disturb (DND) app meant to keep out unwanted calls and texts. The application was accepted into the Play Store but was rejected from the App Store. Apple didn’t want to let it in because it violated the company’s privacy policy by asking for call and text logs.

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Apple typically refuses to share such information with governments in general. The brand’s ban infuriated TRAI and the two have been meeting to resolve the issue for quite some time now. It seemed like a solution was found with the upcoming rollout of iOS 12 since the OS has anti-spam software embedded within it.

iOS 12 has a new “Unwanted Communication” feature which developers can use to filter spam messages and calls in their apps. At the time of its announcement, TRAI chairman RS Sharma told MediaNama that it was looking into whether the update will enable the functional requirements for DND.

It looks like Apple’s changes didn’t live up to TRAI’s standards, because the body has released a new ruling titled “Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018.” Under the new law, telecom operators will have to derecognize any devices which don’t permit the functioning of TRAI’s DND app.

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This is plainly ridiculous and could be disastrous for anyone with an iPhone. Carriers are hardly going to be eager to kick off users just because their smartphone doesn’t have access to an app. TRAI is supposed to work on behalf of consumers, not cut off access to their network.

It’s possible this is just a threat to force Apple to bend to its wishes. The company rarely does, so we’ll have to wait and see whether it’ll make an exception. It has 6 months to take some action before operators have to start enforcing these new regulations.