A man talking on mobile phone. Photo: Aditi Mukherjee. (Aditi Mukherjee.)
A man talking on mobile phone. Photo: Aditi Mukherjee. (Aditi Mukherjee.)

Telcos must make consumers aware of spam calls, SMS through campaigns: Trai

  • This was prompted by the fact that spam calls persisted despite restrictions on telemarketers as people aren’t aware of the implications of sharing numbers
  • The sector regulator issued this direction to phone operators late on Monday

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has asked operators to run a media campaign to make mobile phone subscribers aware about the procedure to register their consent and preferences in case of spam messages and calls and a facility to make complaints if such calls persist.

The sector regulator issued this direction to phone operators late on Monday.

Trai has asked operators to run a media campaign to “make the customers aware regarding procedure and facilities for: registration of preference, registration and revocation of consents, making complaints or reporting of unsolicited commercial communications, and that they shall not get involved in the activity of sending commercial communication", it said in the direction to telcos.

In July last year, the regulator had asked operators to adopt blockchain or distributed ledger technology to ensure only registered telemarketers have access to phone databases and that user consent to receive such communication is explicitly recorded.

Under the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, telecom service providers were asked to use the distributed ledger technology (DLT) to control the flow of commercial communication on their networks.

Since blockchain secures information cryptographically through the use of ‘keys’ and signatures to control who can do what within the shared ledger, only registered telemarketers will be able to discharge certain functions.

Under the rules issued last year, companies that want to communicate with interested users have to confirm their identity through a header registered in their name and access providers must now provide facility to digitally record and revoke consent of the subscribers.

“No significant progress has been shown by access providers for migration of existing headers and consents with principal entities to DLT system of access providers," Trai said on Monday.

“Out of approximately 9 lakh unique headers existing in market, as per the information submitted by access providers, so far negligible number of headers have been registered by principal entities...many principal entities across all access providers are not fully aware about the requirements and steps of registration of entity, header, consent etc," Trai said.

The regulator has also directed operators to ensure that user’s consent shall be registered in the new system and entities are not able to send any commercial communication till they register themselves with mobile service providers.

This was prompted by the fact that spam calls persisted despite restrictions on telemarketers as people aren’t aware of the implications of sharing numbers and the absence of a robust mechanism to record consent.

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