Trai notifies new rules to check pesky calls and spam messages

Telecom regulator Trai has notified new rules to check pesky calls and messages, rejecting claims of operators that they have to bear additional costs to set up infrastructure. In fact, the regulator has said that compliance costs will come down drastically as the operators can outsource the work to establish, operate and maintain the infrastructure to digital ledger or blockchain providers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said the adoption of blockchain-based technology for pesky communication will ensure compliance and better control for all the entities. Under the new rules, subscribers will have complete control over their consent, with an option to revoke it at any time. Through this, Trai feels that a major abuse of the current regulations would be stopped. 

The regulations also provide for registration of senders, registration of headers (that segregate different types of messages). “Unscrupulous telemarketers today override the stated preference of the subscriber by claiming consent that may have been surreptitiously obtained. New regulations provide the subscriber with complete control over their consent and the ability to revoke the consent already granted, at their option,” Trai said. 

Trai has asked telecom operators to put in place the blockchain-based solution in the next five months. Earlier, regulations on unsolicited commercial communications (UCC) were notified in 2010, which led to disconnection of 1.4 million telephone numbers, besides other penalties. But despite that, the problem continued to persist with imposters and fraudsters taking advantage of loopholes. Trai said with the adoption of newer technologies such as automated calling, spammers have acquired the ability to reach very large target groups and in this backdrop, it has become unavoidable to completely overhaul the existing regulations. A draft of the new regulations was unveiled in May 29, seeking comments from stakeholders. 

The telecom operators, though, had raised concerns as they felt that additional costs would be incurred to put in place a new infrastructure. Industry body COAI has written letters to Trai and held meeting with its officials, seeking to defer the implementation of new rules. 

“…the new proposals will lead to complex processes and huge costs for telecom service providers, without any substantial benefits. In fact, the regulation would be beneficial only for the vendors who would be providing the technology which Trai has proposed in the draft,” COAI said in the letter. 

Refuting the claims, Trai said the use of advanced technology not only smoothens various processes but also drastically reduces the compliance cost.
BLOCKCHAIN TO THE RESCUE

  • Blockchain, popularly known as a digital ledger, which records virtually everything of value, will be deployed to check pesky calls
  • India is the first country to use the latest technology to curb such communication
  • Spammers can be easily tracked through data matching even when  they use normal 10-digit phone numbers
  • New rules allow infrastructure sharing and outsourcing
  • The per unit cost of compliance would be negligible for telecom operators
  • The advantage of blockchain is that consensus is automatically built, accepted and propagated through a network of nodes
  • Technology used by other regulators, primarily in relation to the financial sector
  • Implementation of new regulatory framework would benefit all stakeholders