TRAI consultation paper on privacy and security of data in telecom sector

Apple is anti-consumer, indulging in data colonisation, says Trai: The Times of India

The authority has suo-motu chose to come out with the consultation paper as it felt it was necessary to frame some guidelines regarding data protection and sharing of data with third party players.

Citing provisions under the Indian Telegraph Act, Trai said preserving data confidentiality is a fundamental motivator for ensuring security of telecom infrastructure and "vulnerabilities in the telecommunication infrastructure can lead to disruption of basic services with a severe impact on citizens, businesses and the delivery of public services".

"The questions posed by the Trai paper are very broad and the risk is that of over-regulating an industry where technological changes and innovation can rapidly make any regulation outdated", said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, a grouping of operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Refusing to name specific companies or platforms, Sharma said: "The larger issue is who owns data generated by a mobile user, what are their rights, and whether any other entity can extinguish his (user's) right on the data" in the name of securing it.

". the one-sided nature of these arrangements with an uneven bargaining power between the provider and the user implies that the user often does not have an effective choice in the matter - the app may not be available for use without authorising those permissions", the consultation paper stated. "My call logs or my SMS data can not be the data of the device manufacturer". Consumers typically underestimate the value of personal data and the impact of agreeing to share it, while service providers benefit by acquiring and holding such data, it said. "Limit my right to information that is my property". However, some users may find it worth giving up metadata if it means the end of unwanted phone calls and spam messages.

Q. 2 In light of recent advances in technology, what changes, if any, are recommended to the definition of personal data?

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma has accused Apple of being anti-consumer by not allowing TRAI's Do Not Disturb app on the Apple App Store. "Should the user's consent be taken before sharing his/her personal data for commercial purposes?" the regulator asked.

While Google's Android operating system supports the Trai app, the regulator's talks with Apple have reportedly not yielded much results.

The paper describes data protection as the legal control over access to and use of data stored in the digital format, and the ability of individuals to understand and control the manner in which information pertaining to them can be accessed and used by others.

TRAI pointed out that the growth in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices also raises concerns about the nature and extent of data being collected by these devices, the objective for which it can be used and the security of these devices.