The row between Apple and the Indian government over an anti-spam app has intensified. Apple was last month warned that it had six months to comply with the government’s demands, or have iPhones banned from Indian networks.

In the latest development, a letter from Apple asking for the threat to be withdrawn has been rejected …

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For those who haven’t been following the story, cold calls and text message spam are a massive problem in India. To address it, the government created a spam-reporting app for both Android and iOS. When someone receives a cold call or a spam message, they can use the app to report it, and details are automatically sent to the Indian regulator – who will then take action against the spammer.

The problem is that the app required access to both call and message logs, something Apple’s privacy policies do not permit, leading it to reject the app. The Indian government didn’t take kindly to this, Apple refused to budge and that’s how we ended up where we are today.

Reuters reports that Apple wrote to the regulator asking the clause about the ‘derecognition’ of non-compliant phones be dropped. Apple instead proposed to the regulator, TRAI, that it would create its own app for iPhone users.

“We look forward to working with TRAI to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communications, while simultaneously ensuring that we fully honor our commitment to protect the privacy and security of our users,” Apple’s head of public policy in India, Kulin Sanghvi, wrote in the letter which was seen by Reuters.

However, TRAI told Reuters that the letter would have no effect.

Asked by Reuters to respond to Apple’s request to drop the derecognition threat, TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma said the notification could not be quashed or challenged by writing a letter.

“The most appropriate way to challenge this is in court,” he said.

It’s not Apple’s only headache in the country. It has seen iPhone sales fall by around 50%, and has reportedly drawn up a five-point plan to try to turn things around in the country.


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