TRAI cracks down on pesky calls & Bulk Sms

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has disconnected 22,769 mobile connections for sending unsolicited telemarketing SMS.

The regulator has also imposed penalty on 94 telemarketing companies for violating the rules on commercial calls and SMS. Four telemarketing firms have been blacklisted.

The TRAI has taken action in line with the new regulations on telemarketing calls that had come into force from September 27, 2011.

As per the provisions of this regulation, consumers who do not wish to receive unsolicited commercial call or SMSes have to get registered on National Customer Preference Register (NCPR). As on March 29, a total of 161.66 million customers have registered their preference on NCPR.

If unsolicited commercial calls and SMSes are sent from individual numbers, notice will be served to the customer and his number will be disconnected on second violation. Accordingly, 36,156 subscribers have been issued notices.
Telecom Ministry and the TRAI have been trying to deal with pesky calls for a while. But every time a regulation is put in place, telemarketing firms find a way to circumvent the system. It started with the ‘Do Not Call’ registry, which turned out to be a complete failure, as most telemarketers refused to get themselves registered with the Department of Telecom neither did they scrub numbers with the registry before calling.

Telemarketers now send SMSes in the guise of commercial messages (like the updates sent by your bank, travel agent or service provider) since this category does not come under the purview of regulations. The policy has, therefore, been tweaked and re-tweaked a number of times over the past few years in a bid to plug all the gaps. Globally, too, regulators are struggling to break this nexus but have had limited success. One big reason for this is the availability of alternate technologies that enable telemarketers to override regulations.

Sms cap

For instance, when the TRAI introduced the ‘100 SMSes per day’ cap in an attempt to put a squeeze on spam messages, telemarketers started routing the SMS through international gateways. The SMSes are sent through overseas operators that do not come under TRAI’s purview and, therefore, there is no fear of being blacklisted or penalised. In countries like the US, mobile users can claim up to $1,500 if they get an unsolicited telemarketing call. Another way of compensating users is to offer them a price per minute value for listening to telemarketing calls.

A paper presented by professors at Yale Law School argues that such a “name your own price” mechanism could be easily implemented technologically by crediting consumers’ phone bills or pre-paid cards.
This system gives the consumer the option to authorise intermediaries to connect calls that meet their compensation demand.


The Hindu

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