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Modi govt forms committee to draft guidelines to address issue of unsolicited calls, spam messages

In the meeting, it was also pointed out that spam callers are now switching to internet calls, especially using WhatsApp to lure customers into Ponzi schemes, and crypto investments and offer job opportunities.

Anurag Roushan Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Published on: February 15, 2024 19:24 IST
Govt forms panel to draft guidelines on issue of unsolicited calls
Image Source : FILE The image has been used for representative purposes only.

The government has announced the formation of 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. Earlier on Wednesday (February 14), the decision was made during a meeting chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, focusing on addressing concerns related to such calls.

"To address the issue of pesky/promotional or unsolicited commercial calls received by the consumers, the Department of Consumer Affairs has constituted a Committee," an official statement said.

Representatives in committee

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).

Their task is 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," the statement said.

Concerns over internet-based calls

In the meeting, concerns were also raised regarding the shift of spam callers towards internet-based calls, particularly through platforms like WhatsApp, to entice individuals into Ponzi schemes, crypto investments, and false job offers.

Efforts have been underway by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to combat the issue of spam messages and pesky calls, particularly from registered telemarketers. Telemarketers have been advised to register their business entities, sender IDs, and SMS templates on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platforms, which are operated by telecom operators and require businesses to provide detailed information.

Guidelines by TRAI

TRAI has introduced new guidelines for the Bulk SMS Service Industry, incorporating Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) as a blockchain-based registration system. This initiative aims to maintain transparent records of all transactions conducted by business entities. The objective behind Trai's DLT regulations is to enhance transparency, combat SMS spam, and safeguard consumers against fraudulent activities.

"During the meeting, it was observed all the Telemarketers from various sectors viz banking and financial services, real estate, e-commerce platforms and other commercial entities have already been advised to get 140 number series prefixed to their phone number so that a consumer can identify the caller," the statement said.

Telemarketers' role in combating spam calls

It gives subscribers more control over what kind of calls or texts they want to receive. Various unregistered telemarketers do not follow these provisions. It was emphasised in the meeting that all telemarketers should ensure strict compliance with these enabling provisions. The meeting was attended by representatives from the DoT, Trai, COAI, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance.

(With PTI inputs)

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