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Modi govt issues draft guidelines to curb unsolicited business calls, messages; seeks public feedback

The new guidelines aim to crack down on unwanted calls from unregistered phone numbers, labelling such practices as unfair trade practices and imposing fines for violations. This marks the first instance where penalties are being considered for infringing on consumer privacy and rights.

Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: June 20, 2024 16:36 IST
Modi govt issues draft guidelines to curb unsolicited business calls and messages
Image Source : FILE The image has been used for representative purposes only.

The central government has issued draft guidelines aimed at curbing unsolicited business messages and calls. These guidelines seek to protect consumers from unwanted commercial communications. The government is inviting public comments on the proposed measures, with the deadline for submissions set for July 21. These guidelines, prepared after consultations with stakeholders including telecom firms and regulators, are designed to protect consumers from unwanted commercial communications. For the first time, penalties are being considered for privacy violations and consumer rights infringements.

Draft guidelines target unsolicited business communications

The guidelines define "business communication" as any communication related to goods or services, such as promotional and service messages, but exclude personal communication. They will apply to all individuals and entities that make or engage others for such communications or benefit from them, according to a statement from the ministry. The draft guidelines classify any business communication as unsolicited and unwanted if it does not comply with the recipient's consent or registered preferences. Unauthorized communications include those from unregistered numbers or SMS headers, calls made despite recipients opting out, communications sent without obtaining digital consent, failure to identify the caller and purpose, and lack of an opt-out option.

Additionally, the proposals prohibit communications that violate the Telecom Regulations Authority of India (TRAI) rules on commercial messages based on customer preferences. These measures aim to crack down on unwanted calls and messages, ensuring greater protection for consumer privacy and rights. While Trai's 2018 rules have been effective for registered telemarketers, communications from unregistered marketers using private 10-digit numbers remain unabated, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said. 

Committee was formed to draft guidelines 

This comes four months after the Union Government had formed a committee to draft guidelines aimed at tackling the problem of pesky, promotional, or unsolicited calls received by consumers, which infringe upon their privacy rights. The committee comprises representatives from various sectors including the cellular industry, regulatory bodies such as the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the Cellular Operations Association of India (COAI).

Such calls violate privacy of users

Their task was to draft comprehensive guidelines to tackle the issue effectively. During the meeting, extensive discussions were held on matters pertaining to pesky, promotional, and unsolicited commercial calls. "It was observed that these calls not only violate the privacy of users but also the rights of the consumers. Most of such calls are from the financial services sector followed by real estate," an official statement had said. 

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