Trai revises rules on pesky calls, spam msgs; clarifies telcos' obligation

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Trai on Thursday revamped the regulations on pesky calls and spam as it spelt out new rules mandating subscribers' consent for receiving telemarketing messages.

The regulator also asked telecom operators to ensure that commercial communication takes place only through registered senders.

"...a complete overhaul of the regulation had become unavoidable. The objective of the regulation notified today is to effectively deal with the nuisance of spam experienced by the subscribers," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement.

The regulations provide for registration of senders, registration of headers (that segregate different types of messages), and, more importantly, registration of subscribers' consent.

"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.


The registration of subscriber consent will put an end to "major abuse of the current regulations", it noted.

Trai said that every access provider should establish 'Customer Preference Registration Facility (CPRF)' and make necessary arrangements to facilitate customers by providing ways and means to record consent (or its revocation) related to commercial communication.

Also, Trai has introduced the concept of registered templates for both SMS and voice communication to prevent deliberate mixing of promotional messages into the transactional stream.

"This will give relief to subscribers who feel targeted by unwanted communication today," the regulator added.

Violations under various category will attract a penalty ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5 million, based on the type of offense.


The regulations also involve adoption of blockchain or the Distributed Ledger Technology, to ensure regulatory compliance while allowing innovation in the market.

These measures will bring in the flexibility and speed "necessary to combat the spammers who continually change their tactics and morph their identities to escape detection" said Trai.

Terming its fix for pesky calls "user friendly and automated", the regulator said that the technological advancements will smoothen processes and reduce the cost of compliance.


"The infrastructure may be outsourced and shared, while the unbundling of the functions allows third-party provider to compete for providing best quality solutions at lowest cost. Considering the large volume of messages (between 20 to 30 billion per month), the per unit cost of compliance would be negligible," it said.

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