Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced a new set of regulations in order to prevent users from receiving unsolicited commercial calls and messages. The new regulations require that smartphones should be able to support the Do Not Disturb application being developed by the regulator. The DND app requires read permissions on call logs and text messages in order to work on iOS.
TRAI already has an official DND app on Google's Play Store for Android for reporting unsolicited calls and messages to numbers registered in its DND database. A similar app has been planned for iOS users by the regulator but Apple does not allow third-party applications on iOS 11 to access call logs which is what is making things between Apple and TRAI tough.
The following part of TRAI’s new regulations reads that the telecom providers have to stop providing to devices that do not allow for such an app to be installed on the platform.
Every Access Provider shall ensure, within six months’ time, that all smart phone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning of such Apps as prescribed in the regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d);
Provided that where such devices do not permit functioning of such Apps as prescribed in regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d), Access Providers shall, on the order or direction of the Authority, derecognize such devices from their telecom networks.
In November 2017, an Apple spokesperson in India made a statement to confirm that TRAI will be able to use iOS 11’s SMS spam filtering to build the app but TRAI wants access to the call logs so the users can have the functionality to report spam calls as well.
Apple intends to help that with the ability to report unsolicited calls and text messages that's present in the iOS 12 betas.TRAI could work with the new APIs to build a dedicated DND app to report unsolicited communication.
TRAI is also considering legal action against Apple as confirmed by R.S. Sharma, the current Chairman of TRAI. He also added:
“This is unjust, it shows the approach and attitude of this company."
On 11th June, Indian Cellular Association (ICA), a body that represents the mobile manufacturers in India wrote a letter to TRAI mentioning:
“it would be patently wrong to give all powers in the hands of telecom operators to start judging which device should continue and which should be ‘derecognised from its telecom network'"
Interestingly enough, the letter from ICA also mentions the iOS 12 update but TRAI seems to have completely ignored the information. ICA also mentions that the new regulations might affect users who don't wish to upgrade to the new version of iOS.