Telecom regulator TRAI on Thursday cracked down on unauthorised, pesky promotional messages by telemarketers as it issued directions to telecom operators to act swiftly to stop the misuse of headers and message templates.

To stop such misuse and curb unwanted messages, the regulator has directed access service providers (telecom operators) to reverify all registered headers and message templates on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platform and block all unverified headers and message templates within 30 and 60 days, respectively.

The move is expected to come as a relief to mobile users, annoyed by deluge of unauthorised, pesky promotional messages.

Telecom operators have also been asked to ensure that temporary headers are deactivated immediately after the set time duration lapses.

“… Remove confusions among recipients of message and prevent their misuse, no look-alike headers (headers which are similar by virtue of combination of small case or large case letters) are to be registered by access providers in names of different Principal Entities,” TRAI said.

To curb messages from unauthorised or unregistered telemarketers, including telemarketers using telephone numbers, telecom operators have been directed to “bar all telemarketers, who are not registered on DLT platform from handling the message template scrubbing and delivery of messages to recipients through Access Providers’ network”.

Telcos will have to “ensure that promotional messages are not transmitted by Unregistered Telemarketers or Telemarketers using telephone numbers (10 digits numbers).” Telecom operators have been instructed to take action against all erring telemarketers as per stipulated regulations and initiate actions as per relevant legal laws.

“The Access Service Provider shall also notify details of such Telemarketers to other Access Providers, who shall, in turn, bar these entities from sending any kind of commercial communications through their networks,” TRAI said.

TRAI has asked all telecom service providers to comply with its directions within 30 days.

“In order to ensure that all promotional messages are sent through Registered Telemarketers (RTMs) using approved Headers and Message Templates on Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) platform, and also to stop misuse of Headers and Message Templates, TRAI has issued two separate Directions to Access Service Providers under TCCCPR-2018,” the regulator said in a statement.

The move came after the regulator observed that headers and message templates of Principal Entities (PEs) are being misused by some telemarketers. Put simply, principal entities, say banks, generate content and rope in telemarketers for customer outreach.

Telcos would also have to ensure that content variables in message template do not have flexibility to insert undesired contents. Entities involved in message transmission should be clearly identifiable and tracked, if required, TRAI asserted.

“TRAI’s directions are a much-needed push for all participants of the DLT ecosystem to clean-up the menace of inactive or unverified headers/templates, which Tanla has been advocating for a long time,” D Uday Reddy, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Tanla Platforms, said in a statement.

Of nearly 5 million templates registered on the DLT at present, nearly 80 percent are inactive for a period of six months, providing opportunity for infiltrators to misuse the templates.

“Variable elements in templates are also being abused to insert inappropriate content in the text messages. Adherence to TRAI’s directives shall certainly bring the much-required discipline and help enterprises in managing their DLT assets,” Reddy said. 


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