- BSNL did not respond to the regulatorís show-cause notices and did not produce performance-monitoring reports.
- The other telcos also failed to curb the UCC order and received a penalty.
- TRAI, in separate orders to the companies, said that BSNL, Vi, Jio and Airtel even misreported the count of unsolicited calls and messages on their networks.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 35 crore on eight telecom companies including Airtel, BSNL, Jio and Vi for allowing cybercriminals to send fake SMSes to digital payment users. Other companies that have been penalised by the regulator are MTNL Videocon, Tata Teleservices and Quadrant Teleservices.
"As per regulation 27 of Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, the Authority (Trai) may impose financial disincentives on any access provider if it fails to curb Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) through its network," Trai said in the affidavit filed on Monday. The penalty document was accessed by Mint. BSNL attracted the highest penalty of Rs 30.1 crore followed by Vi, Quadrant and Airtel that attracted a penalty of Rs 1.82 crore, Rs 1.41 crore and Rs 1.33 crore.
According to reports, TRAI cannot impose penalty on telecom operators without giving them sufficient time to block phishing activities on their network. However, BSNL did not respond to the regulator's show-cause notices and did not produce performance-monitoring reports. The other telcos also failed to curb the UCC order and received penalty.
TRAI, in separate orders to the companies, said that BSNL, Vi, Jio and Airtel even misreported the count of unsolicited calls and messages on their networks. Trai noted that as of November 23, about 223,000 headers of various principal entities were registered on a new system aimed at improving oversight.
As per TRAI's investigations, the telcos had not been diligent in monitoring the type of communication being sent to users and thus violated the regulator's code of practice, ET Telecom noted. Fake headers and messages are carried to say that they are coming from banks or payment executives to get hold of private details from unsuspecting customers to gain access to their bank accounts and siphon funds.
To prevent spam SMSes, companies are asked to submit their headers and content on a blockchain-based platform operated by telcos.
In June, Paytm filed a defamation suit of Rs 100 crore on telecom operators including Airtel, Reliance Jio, BSNL, MTNL, and Vodafone Idea for not blocking phishing activities over their networks, leading to financial loss for the fintech company. In September, a writ petition was filed by technology industry body, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) along with other digital fintechs including PhonePe and MobiKwik in the Delhi high court against telcos.