TRAI’s new rules to give users more control to block pesky calls

Customers will be able to set their preference about types of days, time bands on which they would like to receive commercial communications as well preferred modes of communication- call or SMS.

tech Updated: Jul 20, 2018 15:53 IST
TRAI,TRAI Pesky Calls,TRAI Rules Spam Calls
TRAI has increased the penalty cap on telecom operators by 10 folds to Rs 50 lakh in a month from Rs 5 lakh in previous regulations for violations of the norms. (AFP)

In a relief to telecom customers from pesky calls, the sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up with stringent unsolicited commercial communication rules under which an individual can now revoke permission that they have granted to any commercial entity for a service.

In a month from the time the new rules are notified, customers will be also able to set their preference about types of days, time bands on which they would like to receive commercial communications as well preferred modes of communication- call or SMS.

Under the new norms, the TRAI has asked telecom operators to allow customers to set their preference using mobile app developed by them or the regulator, by sending SMS to 1909, website etc without paying any money for these services.

This facility comes in addition to existing choice of subscribers to partially or fully block tele-marketers for calling them.

TRAI has increased the penalty cap on telecom operators by 10 folds to Rs 50 lakh in a month from Rs 5 lakh in previous regulations for violations of the norms.

According to the new norms, Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018, has given 120 days time to telecom operators to ensure that modification made by subscribers around receiving tele-marketing or business calls is updated in 15 minutes and commercial communication is made to him or her as per the modified choice after 24 hours of receipt of request.

“Authority decides that request of preference registration, de registration or modification should be done within 15 minutes and recommends that revised preferences be enforced within a time period of twenty-four hours from the time of registering preference or changes to it,” Trai said.

Besides enhancing power of telecom customers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has tightened the noose on telecom operators and trickster tele-marketers by introducing concept of blockchain technology to plug leakages in the system.

To prevent leakages of subscriber information, the regulator has asked telecom operators to ensure that in 120 days from the date new rules are notified, the data of customers should not be visible in clear text to even person authorised to use machines for making tele-marketing calls.

The regulator has proposed a scrubbing function under which choice of consumers will be processed. The entity performing scrubbing function will have to implement mechanism to protect subscriber data leak by using methods like assigning virtual identities or token to a set of information without disclosing real identities of customers.

Trai has considered tricks used by pesky callers to escape from getting caught under previous regulation like silent calls where a blank call is made to customer and the customers reverts to the call, automated calls etc.

The regulator has given conditional nod to automated calls but completely barred silent calls even from registered tele-marketers.

Under the new rule if an unregistered telemarketer (UTM) or individual is found making pesky calls or sms, after 150 days these rules are notified, his or her connection will be capped to 20 calls and 20 messages per day for up to 30 days till the time telecom operator investigates the matter. On second instance of complaint, the usage cap will be extended for period of six months.

All phone connection of such person will be disconnected if the violation continues thereafter and also no connection will be issued to the individual for period of 2 years. Telecom operators will be penalised in the range of Rs 1,000 to up to Rs 50 lakh on case or case basis if they breach the new norms.

Reacting on the new rules, telecom industry body COAI said that telecom operators are committed to addressing customers’ concerns and will work with TRAI.

It, however, expressed concern that the regulations that are issued without a proper cost/benefit analysis, especially in the present situation of the stressed financial condition of the industry and its ability to absorb additional regulatory costs.

“We are reviewing the regulation to see if this is adequately addressed. The time frames for implementing, especially given the requirement to implement Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), which has not been implemented by any other regulator, appears too stringent and difficult to achieve,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 15:16 IST