Trai notifies use of blockchain technology to control spam calls

By: | Published: July 20, 2018 5:43 AM

The Trai norms include the use of blockchain technology to ensure that all necessary regulatory pre-checks are carried out to control the flow of commercial communication.

Trai,  blockchain technology, spam call, messagesThe Trai norms include the use of blockchain technology to ensure that all necessary regulatory pre-checks are carried out to control the flow of commercial communication.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday notified the new guidelines for curbing spam calls and messages. The norms include the use of blockchain technology to ensure that all necessary regulatory pre-checks are carried out to control the flow of commercial communication. In May, Trai had released the draft Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018 to check the menace of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC), or spam calls and messages.

Under the new regulations, telecom operators will now have to adopt the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) or the blockchain technology. “Access providers should adopt the DLT as regulatory technology (RegTech) to develop the core of the entire UCC ecosystem and design solutions around it for meeting regulatory objectives and requirements of codes of practice,” the notification said. Explaining the rationale behind the decision, the regulator said blockchain is suitable for adoption as RegTech for controlling and managing the entire UCC ecosystem. The DLT network can record details of entities, headers, consent, content template, etc. It can ensure that all necessary regulatory pre-checks are done for UCC and control is effective and efficient. This means that now telecom operators will have to establish, operate and maintain its own blockchain network or they can implement it in collaboration with other operators.

With this notification, operators will have to provide a facility for subscribers to register their preferences for commercial communication as well as to record their consent or revocation of consent. It also means that subscribers will have more control over the kind of messages they get. With the new regulation coming into force, subscribers can now set their preference about days and time bands on which they would like to receive commercial communications. It also gives them more control to manage consent and preferences. Operators will benefit as they will have flexibility to formulate codes of practices, control participants in the UCC ecosystem, supervise and control functioning of participating entities including passing on penalties for under-performance.

Trai said the last regulation on spam calls and messages was in 2010 and since then around 1.4 million telephone numbers have been disconnected. “However, the problem of UCC has continued to resist the onslaught. Meanwhile, the menace of fraudulent calls and messages has also emerged in a big way and this issue has been red-flagged by other sectoral regulators like Sebi and the RBI, who have sought Trai’s assistance in controlling these activities,” the regulator said. It said that fraudsters take advantage of the loopholes in identity verification by putting distance between them and the operators through multiple intermediaries controlled by weak and unverifiable agreements.

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