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TRAI Suspends New SMS Scrubbing Norms

  • 10 Mar 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) temporarily suspended the scrubbing of short message service or SMS by telecom service providers (TSP) for seven days.

  • The action by TRAI comes after the functioning of several SMS-based services of banks and e-commerce platforms was affected recently, as the TSPs implemented the second phase of SMS regulation.

Key Points

  • Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018:
    • It was issued to “effectively deal with the nuisance of spam".
    • Rules mandate telcos to verify the content of every SMS with the registered text before delivering it to consumers.
      • As per TRAI norms, the content of all SMSes will now be verified before it is allowed to be delivered on the users’ device. This process, known as scrubbing, was implemented recently after several delays.
      • The new TRAI regulations for principal entities, which will be allowed to send SMSes to customers, seek registration of senders, telemarketers, headers, content, templates, consent templates and subscriber preference.
    • The rules prohibit unregistered senders from initiating commercial messages, while registered companies are prevented from sending fraudulent messages to their customers.
    • TRAI has released a framework under which telcos could use a distributed ledger technology or blockchain to verify the sender information and content of every commercial SMS before it was delivered on the user’s device.
      • Blockchain will ensure two things i.e, non-repudiation and confidentiality. Only those authorised to access details will be able to access subscriber details and only when they need to deliver service.
      • According to TRAI, the old technology and platform allowed unscrupulous telemarketers to override the stated preference of the subscriber by claiming consent that may have been surreptitiously obtained.
  • Recent Issue:
    • Even though TSPs implemented the scrubbing norms, some companies did not adopt them, leading to text messages getting dropped and transaction failures.
      • TSPs followed TRAI regulations and activated the due process of content scrubbing to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communication.
      • TSPs had sent various communications to the principal entities to register their content template with TSPs.

Blockchain Technology

  • Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.
    • An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding).
  • Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.
  • The initial and primary use of blockchain technology was for monitoring cryptocurrency (e.g. bitcoin) transactions. However, other usage and applications have emerged in the last few years.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

  • It was established by an Act of Parliament (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997) to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services.
  • It provides a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
  • The TRAI Act was amended to establish a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
    • TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.

Source: IE

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