TRAI to soon start consultation process on ownership, security & privacy of data

Pablo Tucker
August 10, 2017

In a peculiar news, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is accusing Apple of "data colonization", as its devices restrict its users from sharing call and text details with the regulator.

ET was the first to report in its edition on Wednesday that Trai would come out with a consultation paper on data.

The Trai through the paper plans to define personal data and who should have ownership and control when a customer uses telecom services.

Sharma, who was speaking on the sidelines of Digital India Foundation event, said questions like these are important in the current context of a digital world where data is a "currency, a property and valuable".

So TRAI is in the process to begin a consultation process to help customers to clarify issues of privacy and security of data which flow's data through network telecoms. The regulator will then hold open-house discussions, following which it will make recommendations to the telecom department, which will take a final call on implementation. As per an official, the authority has been working on the paper for the past couple of months as now there are no guidelines regarding the use of data by third party entities and also who owns the data.

The regulator will now seek views of operators and entities associated with the sector, and the public.

". 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. "The ownership should remain and shall remain with the consumer who produced the data". Data collection, storage and analytics have become widely used tools that allow businesses to monetise their products and services and gain a competitive advantage over other providers. It allows users to block calls and messages from telemarketers.

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

The app is called "Do Not Disturb", and was launched by Trai in June 2016.

What are the key issues of data protection pertaining to the collection and use of data by various other stakeholders in the digital ecosystem, including content and application service providers, device manufacturers, operating systems, browsers, etc? Trai Chairman RS Sharma said Apple is acting like a "data coloniser" and is being "anti-consumer".

"Courts are already looking into the issue of data privacy and protection, so how do you bind it and deal with it for just licensees?"

Sharma argued that given that SMS and call logs belong to a mobile user, a third party could not take control of such data in the name of data privacy or security.

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