Truecaller Service Similar To Phone Directories, Says Delhi HC, Dismisses PIL: Report

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On Monday, the Delhi High Court dismissed a petition against Swedish mobile application Truecaller, which offers users the identity of a caller from an unknown number, the media has reported. A division bench comprising  Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora stated that services like providing names and emails of phone numbers are a facility, drawing parallels to the historical practice of publishing telephone directories with names and phone numbers, says a report by news agency IANS.

The petitioner, Ajay Shukla, argued that Truecaller breaches privacy by disclosing information about third parties without their consent. In response, the court likened this caller identification service to a contemporary version of traditional phone directories.

Shukla’s legal representative contended that the Stockholm, Sweden-based Truecallerrscans a user’s phonebook and reveals details about individuals who haven’t agreed to its terms and conditions, possibly leading to reputational harm. However, the defence argued that the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) amounted to “publicity interest litigation,” highlighting that Shukla had previously brought the same plea to the Supreme Court, which dismissed it without allowing him the freedom to approach the high court.

After reviewing the Supreme Court’s order, the high court also observed that the petitioner had failed to mention the previous proceedings in their writ petition. Consequently, the court regarded the petition as a form of re-litigation and potentially an abuse of the legal process. Therefore, it dismissed the PIL against Truecaller.

To recall, Truecaller also launched Truecaller Assistant in India, its biggest market, which leverages machine learning (ML) and cloud telephony to create the call-screening solution in the middle of last year. Truecaller Assistant is currently available for Android users only and it would “answer calls” on behalf of the user,  in a bid to fight fraud and spam calls. It screens calls, filters out the spammers, and tells the user who’s calling and why. It would support Hindi, English as well as “Hinglish”.

Truecaller Assistant was made available on a free 14-day trial, after which subscribers can add Assistant as part of Truecaller Premium Assistant plan that starts from Rs 149 per month (Rs 99 as part of the limited promotional deal). The service was previously launched in the US and Australia, and additional markets and languages will soon follow.

In India, Truecaller Assistant will initially support three languages.

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