New Delhi: In a first of its kind initiative, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday issued draft guidelines to curb pesky calls and SMSes by using blockchain technology.

The regulator said that it will work together with telecom operators and other stakeholders to firm up a regulatory framework to address unsolicited commercial communication.

The draft Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018, will be open for comment till 11 June.

“The problem is widespread globally. All efforts to check this via regulation or technology have not succeeded as much as we would have liked it to. Regulatory systems have fallen short as people have found new ways to evade them. Now we plan to use a mix of regulation and latest technology tools to tackle this problem," Trai chairman R.S. Sharma said.

Sharma said that blockchain will ensure securing of information cryptographically and will be available only to registered telemarketers for discharging certain functions.

“This architecture leverages blockchain, which is a non-repudiable way of keeping records, and then creates a framework which protects privacy of information...and the digital trail of transactions will be available at a place which is non-repudiable and at the same time confidential."

Last September, Trai had issued a consultation paper, asking stakeholders for comments on how to create systems for registering telemarketers and making the complaint redressal system better, among others.

The draft rules require subscribers to give consent before receiving any communication, and also provides them with the option to review or revoke his or her consent at any point in time. “Currently when you record your choice, it takes a week to get activated. Now, this will be activated instantaneously," Sharma said.

Firms will also have to assert their identity through a header directly registered in their name, before they can communicate with interested users.

The regulator has also decided to deploy the proposed framework in a regulatory sandbox, which is a safe environment wherein some rules can be relaxed and solutions can be demonstrated. For example, the user could voluntarily agree to receiving spam just to test the efficiency of the proposed solution.

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