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TRAI suspends UCC norms for 7 days

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Tai) has suspended implementation of rules that were introduced to curb unsolicited commercial text messages, granting companies seven more days to adopt the new framework to prevent financial fraud and spam text messages.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trai said it has observed that some companies have not adopted the new rules because of which SMSes were getting dropped, even as telcos implemented the scrubbing norms at their end. As a result, customers were subjected to failed transactions.

The development follows massive disruption caused to a host of services and transactions such as net banking, Aaadhar card authentication, credit card payments, railway ticket bookings, among others, on Monday as SMSes and one-time passwords (OTPs) could not be generated on customers’ devices, with telecom operators implementing the new rules for unwanted commercial messages.

“We are giving companies and government bodies seven more days to implement the regulations. Some banks reached out to us on Monday as their customers were facing problems in receiving OTPs. For Trai, customers are a priority and we do not want them to face problems.

But it is high time companies register themselves,” a top official at the regulator told Mint, requesting anonymity.

Trai had issued Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR) in July 2018 to “effectively deal with the nuisance of spam experienced by subscribers”. The rules prohibit unregistered senders to initiate commercial messages.

Registered companies are also prevented from sending fraudulent messages to their customers.

Following the chaos and several complaints to the regulator on Monday, telecom operators defended their move by saying that companies and government bodies did not register their content template until 7 March despite several reminders, as a result of which they faced glitches.

“TSPs (telecom service providers) are following Trai regulations and have activated due process of content scrubbing to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communication. TSPs have sent various communications to the principle entities to register their content template with the TSPs before March 7,” said SP Kochhar, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

“We request all the principle entities to get their content template registered with TSPs at the earliest, and help TSPs address the issue of unsolicited commercial communication,” Kochhar added.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd are COAI members.

According to the new rules, telcos are mandatorily required to verify the content of every SMS with the registered template before delivering it to consumers. For this, telcos have adopted blockchain technology that checks headers, or sender IDs, and content of every SMS originating from a registered source. Those with unregistered sources of SMS are rejected by telcos.

This means that all transnational and promotional messages are supposed to have a standard template with header, preference and consent, which should be registered with the telecom operators.

“What happened was that some agencies which had not registered their template were sending messages and the DLT system started rejecting them. That is why many services were affected as they were not approved,” said another government official familiar with the matter. Livemint

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