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TRAI proposes the use of Blockchain to curb telemarketing 'nuisance'

Sohini Mitter
30th May 2018
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The new system will ask for 'explicit consent' of subscribers before making them eligible for communication from authorised telemarketers. 

India’s telecom regulator has proposed the use of Blockchain to curb unwanted calls and messages from telemarketers. TRAI wants to ensure that telemarketing communication is sent to only those subscribing to it.

It has issued draft guidelines under the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018, which would be open for comment until June 11. TRAI has also announced that it would be working with all telcos to roll out a regulatory framework that addresses unwarranted commercial communication.

Blockchain will allow securing of customer information cryptographically and will be made available to only registered telemarketers. This Blockchain-based system would be a first-of-its-kind implementation by any organisation and customers would have greater control, TRAI said.

RS Sharma, Chairman of TRAI, said:

“Blockchain is non-repudiable and confidential. Only those authorised to access details will be able to get subscriber information and only when they need to deliver a service.”

As per the new draft, the system would ask for “explicit consent” of customers before making data available to telemarketing agencies. At any given point, subscribers would be allowed “the option to revoke his/her consent, if it is abused or is no longer relevant”.

They can also opt out of the service by simply sending a text message to ‘1909’. TRAI may or may not include the opt-out feature in its DND app.  

Penalties for telcos

Sharma said that TRAI’s efforts till now to curb unsolicited calls and messages from telemarketers have come to nought. They have always found a way to evade regulations. According to industry estimates, close to 30 billion unsolicited messages flow through operator networks every month.

TRAI has spelled out penalties for telcos who fail to abide by the upcoming regulation. If they are not able to prevent unauthorised telemarketers from communicating with subscribers, they can be fined anything between Rs 1,000 and Rs 46 lakh depending on the nature of violation. 

On its decision to consider the inputs of key stakeholders, that is telcos, TRAI stated, “Since the telcos can be expected to guard the interests of their subscribers, TRAI has opted for co-regulation to develop solutions that can better serve the needs of all stakeholders. This would, of course, be allowed only within the framework prescribed in the regulations.”

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