The problem has only become severe in the last few years as more and more users come to possess smartphones and use more data.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to make stricter the rules governing unsolicited commercial calls or telemarketing calls and SMS, Chairman RS Sharma told Moneycontrol.

After ebbing for a few years, the menace of these calls and SMS has worsened significantly over the last three-four years. The regulator had issued a consultation paper on the subject in September last year.

“We will very soon issue the recommendations. We are going to tighten them. We are going to fix the responsibility of all the stakeholders. As you know, anything consumer centric, TRAI is very particular. So in this case, we are going be very strict,” said Sharma, without specifying the timeline of the regulatory action.

TRAI currently disconnects the numbers and blacklists any entity that is found to have initiated an unsolicited commercial call. But the regulator found that such entities managed to get new connections and continued to indulge in these activities. Therefore, it felt there was a need to devise a more effective mechanism to deal with the issue.

The problem has only become severer in the last few years as more and more users come to possess smartphones and use more data.

“Earlier, these calls and messages were simply annoying while nowadays, they are also being used by scammers trying to steal the identity or mislead the target for making some investments,” TRAI said in its consultation paper.

Under TRAI’s existing regulatory framework, subscribers can register for not getting calls and SMS from telemarketers. Provisions are also there to set one or more of seven pre-defined categories of fields or areas in which one may be interested to receive telemarketer SMS. But this has been of little help as mobile service providers express their helplessness and plead not guilty.

Mobile users, who have registered with the regulator’s ‘Do Not Call’ registry, continue to get telemarketing calls from agencies such as banks, insurance companies, real estate agents, stock brokers and other utility service providers.

Telemarketing activities are permitted only after registration with TRAI and after entering into agreements with mobile service providers. There are different standard agreements for different purposes such as promotional voice calls, promotional SMS, transactional SMS, SMS with reply, etc.

According to the regulator’s consultation paper, with the present regulatory provisions and processes, it takes seven days for the preferences registered by the customer to become effective.

TRAI felt that under current technology solutions, it should be possible to update the records at necessary places and enforce the preference in much less time. Similarly, the time for resolution of a complaint may also be shortened and thus, the window of time available with an unregistered telemarketer before action is taken can be reduced substantially.

The regulator would also look to safeguard the interest of genuine telemarketers who have entered into a formal contract with a subscriber for sending such communication. – Money Control


Bharat exn


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