Jio Under Scrutiny for Phone Tracking Requirement Hidden in Warranty

Jio Under Scrutiny for Phone Tracking Requirement Hidden in Warranty

Jio Phones have made headlines this past week for their unusual terms and conditions. As announced by the company last week, Jio Phones come with a number of strings attached – including phone tracking requirements.

But hey, what did you expect with a $23 smartphone/feature phone hybrid on a $2 per month plan?

The Jio Phone also comes with mandatory charges of rs 1500 or more per year. Plus, there are restrictions on returning the handset before the three year period is over.

The phone initially generated enormous attention across India for its ridiculously cheap price and cheap rates. Users could pay as little as rs 153 per month (just $2.30 USD) for free voice calls, unlimited data, and 300 free SMS messages.

The phones quickly sold out during a pre-sale period, during which they were priced at rs 1500 (about $23).

Unfortunately, the latest phone tracking phones and conditions have left users with a bad taste in their mouths.

Obviously, when you’re paying just $2.30 USD per month for a $23 smartphone, you know there are going to be some catches. Customers are just now learning about those catches in the terms and conditions.

Jio Phone Comes with Mandatory Phone Tracking

One of the strangest things about Jio Phone is that the phone comes with an awkward privacy policy that forces users to divulge their location data and other personal data:

Jio Phone’s retailer, Reliance Retail (RRL), will have access to your Jio Phone’s “precise geo-location and other information related to your location on a regular basis through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals, calendar entries and other technologies and data.”

In other words, everything you do on the phone is going to be monitored. Only Jio apps are available on the phone as well, so Jio has a large degree of control over users’ behavior.

The location services must be enabled for this data collection to take place.

Jio Phone Tracking is One of Several Awkward Terms and Conditions

Phone tracking isn’t even the most concerning part about Jio Phone (many users have pointed to the fact that Google and hardware OEMs have similar conditions). Another problem is that the phones have just a one year warranty. The phones are also SIM-locked, which means they’re locked to the Jio network.

Another thing that has Jio Phone fans worried is that the phones come with a mandatory replacement policy. You don’t actually own the smartphones: you’ll need to return the smartphones after a 3 year window is complete. Otherwise, you forfeit rs 1500, which was advertised as a refundable sum.

Jio Phone also reserves the right to collect and store recordings of your voice when you make voice commands. The company will collect and store recordings of your voice, and those recordings can be shared between apps.

In defense of Jio Phone, the terms and conditions allow RRL to collect location data anonymously “in a form that does not identify the users.” The company will use location data to provide and improve location-based products and services – which is a pretty standard requirement across phone agreements these days.

Overall, Indian news websites are making a big deal out of Jio Phone’s harsh terms and conditions. In reality, however, there doesn’t seem to be too much worth freaking out about. The terms and conditions seem reasonable – especially given the fact that this is a $23 smartphone on a $2 per month unlimited plan.

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