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How blockchain technology can stop unwanted SMS, calls

TRAI has proposed draft norms to use the distributed ledger technology or blockchain technology to ensure that only authorised entities are able to send commercial messages to users who have subscribed to them.

twitter-logo BusinessToday.In   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 30, 2018  | 18:14 IST
How blockchain technology can stop unwanted SMS, calls

Subscribers will get better control over the telemarketing messages they receive if TRAI comes through with its proposal to use blockchain technology for regulating telemarketers. The telecom regulator has proposed draft norms to use the distributed ledger technology or blockchain technology to ensure that only authorised entities are able to initiate commercial communication with users who have subscribed to them.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) made the proposal of using blockchain technology for managing telemarketers in the draft of Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018. The document is available in public forum for comments and counter comments till June 11.

Blockchain is a distributed, digital ledger that keeps transaction records between two parties that cannot be modified. This attribute of blockchain technology will be used to record the consent given by a subscriber to receive commercial communication, along with the authorised telemarketing agencies.

"Blockchain has proven useful where the objective is to cryptographically secure information and make it available only on need to know basis. Yet none may deny their actions or tamper with records, once recorded on the distributed ledger, which uniformly enforces compliance," TRAI said in a statement.

It will be first time blockchain technology has been used at such a scale in telecom sector, the telecom regulator further added.

"Blockchain will ensure two things -- non- repudiative and confidentiality. Only those authorised to access details will be able to access subscriber details and only when they need to deliver service," TRAI Chairman RS Sharma was quoted by PTI.

The draft also proposes to check repeated telemarketing calls and messages even to those users who have given consent. Moreover, the subscriber has the option to revoke his or her consent if it is abused or is no longer relevant.

"A subscriber may have given consent for a service but that consent is liable to be misused. Under the proposed regulation, the subscriber will be able to revoke consent given to entities whenever he or she desires through TRAI app and other mechanism that will be provided under the regulation," TRAI Secretary SK Gupta was quoted as saying in a PTI report.

TRAI had formulated the 'Do Not Disturb' registry under 2010 to check unsolicited commercial communication. While 23 crore telecom subscribers have registered themselves with the DND registry since then, it has fallen short of containing the problem completely "because unscrupulous elements started obtaining customers' consent, often surreptitiously, or resorted to use of unregistered telemarketers that call or message from a ten-digit number".

Considering the limited success of DND registry, TRAI then initiated public consultations in 2017 over the matter of unsolicited commercial communication and formed the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 draft.

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