Telemarketers need to register, seek customer consent for promotional messages

Keeping in view the fact that unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) is a major source of inconvenience to the public which impinges on the privacy of individuals, the Ministry of Communications has mandated all commercial promoters and telemarketers to register and seek customer consent for receiving various kinds of promotional messages at a time and day of their choice.

To curb the menace of UCC, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) on July 19, 2018, which put in place a framework for controlling UCC. The regulations came into force from February 28, 2019.

With its implementation in a co-regulatory manner with support from all telecom service providers (TSPs), an ecosystem based on blockchain (distributed ledger technology) has been created.

Officials said that DLT has given transparency to TSPs and the regulator in the management of UCC/spam.

The regulation has mandated registration of all commercial promoters and telemarketers to register on the DLT platform. There are about 2,50,000 principal entities registered with more than 6,00,000 headers and nearly 55,00,000 approved message templates, which are being pushed to consumers through registered telemarketers and TSPs using DLT platforms.

This has resulted in substantial reduction of customer complaints to the extent of 60 per cent for registered telemarketers (RTMs). Now complaints are reported against unregistered telemarketers (UTMs), where a surge has been seen in pushing various kinds of UCC SMS. Additionally, UCC calls are also one of the concerns which need to be dealt with equally along with UCC SMS, said officials.

As per the Ministry of Communications, TRAI in coordination with various stakeholders is taking necessary steps to check UCC from UTMs also. These steps include implementation of UCC detect system, provision of digital consent acquisition, intelligent scrubbing of the headers and message templates, using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Language, etc.

TRAI has further taken an initiative to form a joint committee of regulators (JCOR) consisting of TRAI, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities & Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) and Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MoCA) to frame a joint action plan to curb financial frauds using telecom resources.

At a recent meeting of JCOR held on November 10, which was also attended by representatives from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), measures to curb UCC further was deliberated in detail.

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