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SBI, HDFC, Kotak Mahindra, LIC among TRAI defaulters for violating SMS norms

BusinessToday.In     March 27, 2021

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a list of defaulters that have failed to implement new SMS regulations to curb the menace of unsolicited commercial SMSs. Among the entities that are flouting the Trai norms are State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra and Life Insurance Corporation of India.

The telecom regulator has asked all the entities and telemarketers to fulfil the regulatory requirements before March 31 to avoid disruption in communication services from April 1. Other regulatory bodies such as RBI, SEBI, IRDA, central and state government departments, other autonomous bodies and establishments have been told to impress upon these entities to follow the regulatory norms strictly.

"It has been informed that principal entities including major banks like State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, Axis bank etc are not transmitting mandatory parameter like content template IDs, principal entity IDs etc, even in those cases where content templates have been registered, while sending such messages to the TSP (telecom service providers) for delivery," a Trai notification said.

In total, 17 private and public banks are yet to implement the new SMS framework. E-commerce and finance companies like Flipkart and Bajaj Finance and India Bulls, and brokerages like Kotak Securities, Angel Broking and National Stock Exchange have also been named in the defaulters' list.

The Trai notification also includes a list of 40 defaulter telemarketers that have not registered SMS templates with the telecom operators. In a stern warning, Trai said it appears that "few entities are not only indifferent but are also not serious enough in complying with the provisions of the regulations thereby causing inconvenience to consumers".

Also read: TRAI's SMS fiasco: Who's to blame?

Trai said this "should not and cannot be allowed to continue".

Trai had issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 ("TCCCPR, 2018") on July 19, 2018, to curb the menace of unsolicited messages. The rules came into force on February 28, 2019.

As per the norms, the senders of OTP, transactional messages, service messages or commercial messages are required to fulfil prescribed norms for sending bulk messages. This not only helps in preventing spam but fraudulent messages too.

Trai says some principal entities have failed to meet the norms even after two years, despite being fully aware of the consequences. To protect consumers, Trai requested telcos to temporarily suspend the scrubbing of SMSs for seven days to enable the entities to register templates of SMSs so no inconvenience is faced by the customers.

On March 17, TSPs activated the content template scrubbing of SMSs. However, to avoid inconvenience to the public, traffic is being allowed to pass for the time being, even if it is not fulfilling the regulatory norms.

Major reasons for non-compliance are failure to register content template, the missing of ID, and a mismatch in template registered and the message sent. "All these lapses are such which can only be attributed to lack of due care and diligence by principal entities, telemarketers and aggregators," Trai said.

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