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Apple matter, Trai recommendations on data ownership separate issues: Sharma
TT Correspondent |  |  18 Jul 2018

Trai Chairman RS Sharma today sought to de-link the regulator's tussle over its anti-spam app with tech giant Apple from its latest recommendations on data privacy, terming the two as "separate orthogonal issues".

"We are not the persons trying to solve a problem indirectly, what we cannot solve directly...that is certainly not the aim," Sharma said.

He was asked whether Trai's recommendations of yesterday to strengthen the users' hand in controlling personal information would put to rest the rift with Apple.

US based technology titan Apple and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) were engaged in a year-long stand-off on the issue of allowing access to the regulator's anti-spam mobile application.

The Trai app allows users to flag pesky calls and unsolicited messages from telemarketers directly to the regulator, and Google's Android operating system immediately supported the app.

However, Trai has been engaged in a discussion with Apple to allow the pesky call reporting app on the iOS platform.

On whether Trai's recommendations on privacy, security and ownership of data in the telecom sector also seeks to address the concerns previously raised by Trai in the Apple-related matter, Sharma said these were "separate orthogonal issue".

"In the telecom space, we have given recommendations on ownership, privacy and security of data. It has nothing to do with the other issue you mention," he said.

"We have certainly said that the kind of language used to take user consent is absolutely ridiculous. It needs be multi-lingual, easy to understand and short format...even lawyers cannot understand the language (at times)," he added.

Batting for protection of user interest when it comes to data and personal information, Trai has favoured that entities getting control of data in any form should not be allowed to use "pre-ticked" boxes to gain consent.

Its recommendations also talk about mandating "multilingual, easy to understand, unbiased, short templates of agreements" for all entities in the digital ecosystem for the benefit of consumers.

It should be made mandatory for the devices to incorporate provisions so that user can delete pre-installed applications if he/she so decides, Trai has said, adding that user should be able to download the certified applications at his/her own will and the devices should "in no manner restrict such actions by the users".

"Also, many of the application are asking for information which they have no business to ask because the app has no nexus with such information. A torch app asking for contact list and photo? What for? You don't need contact list for them. It is ridiculous. So, I think there has to be some order on this part," Sharma noted.

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