Author: Jagdish Kumar, India
In order to stop calls from unregistered marketers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a directive to all telecommunication companies to opt for Blockchain technology to checking in calls from unregistered telemarketing company.
The regulators on 19 July 2018 asked all telecom service providers to use the distributed ledger technology to control the flow of commercial communication on their networks in its Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2018.
A distributed ledger, or Blockchain, is essentially a collection of records where every person who accesses it also has a copy. But participants have to agree to make a change in the database.
Speaking on this, a former head of the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee of the Internet and Mobile Association of India Ajeet Khurana said that the decision of TRAI is a right step in curbing telemarketing calls.
Adding further, Khurana said that Blockchain can effectively create a signature or a hash of an asset and instead of transmitting that entire digital asset, in this case, the phone number, you can only put the hash on that database which can be accessed by the registered telemarketer. It will be like a virtual token of that digital asset.
Blockchain can secure this database but in this case, security is also needed at the point of origin of the data and before it is stored on the ledger i.e. ensuring that there is no leakage at the end of the telecom service provider generating the number, Khurana stressed.
In September 2017, TRAI has issued a consultation paper seeking comments on how to create a system for registering telemarketers and making the complaint redressal system better.
This was done because the authority was getting many complaints that telecom companies were not able to stop pesky calls. The receiver was also not able to track from where the call was coming.
But, now TRAI has asked the telecom companies to curb unsolicited commercial communication or else face a penalty of $73000 (INR 5 million) per month if they are unable to curb unsolicited commercial communication.
Apart from this, TRAI also said that the company needs to confirm their identity through a header that is registered under their name if they want to communicate with interested users, or else pay fine.
However, this has not gone well with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which has raised a concern that there was no analysis done on the cost of investment for such a system and the benefit that it will bring to the industry especially at such a time where most telecom providers were facing financial stress.
Director-General for COAI Rajan Mathews said, we remain concerned about whether the regulation addresses the issues of unsolicited calls origination from unregistered telemarketers, but the time frame for implementing distributed ledger technology appears too stringent and difficult to achieve.
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