In order to check on unwanted calls and messages, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday tightened the guidelines in the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 (TCCCPR-2018).
It has directed all the access providers (telcos, broadband, and Internet) that use of more than three variables in the contents shall be permitted only with proper justification and additional checks.
It means that the access providers will have to designate a separate approving authority for such content templates.
According to TRAI, “there are quite a number of genuine templates, like templates for IRCTC ticketing information, stock trading information, information with respect to sugarcane procurement and settlement, etc., which require more than three variables, and hence the limit of up to three variables in the content template is not sufficient to convey the intended message to the recipients.”
And certain variables, such as names, addresses, etc., require more than thirty characters; as such, not allowing two consecutive variables restricts the completeness of information.
Therefore, “each variable part needs to be pre-tagged for the purpose for which it is proposed to be used, and a minimum of 30 per cent of the message should comprise a fixed part so that the intent of the original message, for which the content template was approved, is not changed by the intermediaries,” it said.
The regulator also said that only whitelisted URLs, Apks, OTT links, and call back numbers would be allowed in the content template.
The new directions are in continuation of its earlier direction on February 16, 2023, to stop misuse of headers and message templates as part of the directions to curb unsolicited commercial communication (UCC).
TRAI said the headers and content templates of principal entities (PEs) were being misused by some telemarketers due to failure of authentication of PEs’ data, and there was an urgent need to reverify the authenticity of all headers and templates approved on the distributed ledger technologies (DLT) platform and cleanse the data within a definite time frame, and that the process of cleansing DLT data requires periodical action by the access providers.
It also said look-alike headers were being registered by access providers on the names of different PEs, and many times, such headers create confusion among recipients of messages or are even misused by some entities for their own benefit.
TRAI has directed all the telecom service providers to furnish a compliance report with the above directions within 45 days.
According to Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who last month informed Parliament that telecom operators disconnected 15,382 and 32,032 connections during 2021 and 2022, respectively, over violations of regulations meant to curb UCC, or pesky marketing calls and messages.