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Indiamart files plea to quash part of Trai’s new SMS regulations

Indiamart, which started out as an online directory for businesses in India, is currently backed by Intel Capital with Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd as one of its investors.Premium
Indiamart, which started out as an online directory for businesses in India, is currently backed by Intel Capital with Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd as one of its investors.

  • Trai had issued the TCCCPR in July 2018 to effectively deal with the nuisance of spam. The rules prohibit unregistered senders from initiating commercial messages, while registered companies are prevented from sending fraudulent messages

NEW DELHI: E-commerce company Indiamart Intermesh Ltd has moved the Delhi high court, seeking direction to set aside and quash a part of the new SMS regulations that have been rolled out by the telecom regulator to prevent spam messages.

As per the writ petition, a certain rule in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) new SMS framework is “unconstitutional". It said the operation of regulation 25 of the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, is “ultra vires" or violates Trai Act, 1997, as it applies to business-to-business (B2B) messages.

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Mint has seen a copy of the petition.

Indiamart has also sought direction from the high court for Trai to amend the definition of recipient and subscriber under the 2018 regulations that would distinguish between commercial and non-commercial recipients and subscribers.

“It is submitted that the 2018 regulation fails to draw any distinction between commercial subscriber/recipient and ordinary subscriber/recipient and, therefore, the regulations are violative of Article 14, 19 ( 1 )(g) and 21 of the Constitution since it does not recognize reasonable classification and treats unequals equally," Indiamart said in it petition.

The high court will hear the case on Monday.

On Friday, Trai said companies that do not meet the new regulations for sending commercial SMS to consumers within three days of its notice will be prohibited from doing so.

It reiterated the objective of the new SMS regulations that have been rolled out to prevent spam messages and online frauds. The new regulations were suspended by Trai on 9 March after their implementation by telecom operators sparked chaos.

“It has been decided that those principle entities which do not comply with the regulatory needs, will be notified by the access providers to comply with the regulatory requirements within three days time, failing which the names of defaulting entities would be displayed on the website," Trai said.

The regulator said if the companies fail to adopt the new framework even after this period, they will not be allowed to send bulk communication using telecom resources.

Trai had issued the TCCCPR in July 2018 to “effectively deal with the nuisance of spam". The rules prohibit unregistered senders from initiating commercial messages, while registered companies are prevented from sending fraudulent messages to customers.

On 8 March, telcos implemented the SMS scrubbing norms. Some companies, however, had not adopted the norms, leading to text messages getting dropped and transaction failures.

Several banks rushed to the telecom regulator after failure in generating SMSes and one-time passwords (OTPs) affected services such as net banking, Aadhaar-enabled transactions, credit card payments, railway ticket bookings and even vaccine registrations.

“It has been observed that some of the principal entities have not fulfilled the requirements as envisaged in TCCCPR, 2018, even after two years, despite being fully aware of the regulations and the consequences," Tria said on Friday.

The rules mandate telcos to verify the content of every SMS with the registered text before delivering it to consumers. For this, telcos have adopted blockchain-based technology (or distributed ledger technology—DLT) that checks headers, or sender IDs, and content of every SMS originating from a registered source, while unregistered sources are rejected.

This means all transactional and promotional messages are supposed to have a standard template with header, preference and consent, which should be registered with the telecom operators.

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