The government has said that several measures have been taken to protect consumers from pesky calls and spam commercial messages and users have the option to block commercial communications in specific categories or all of them, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

TRAI had issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 (TCCCPR-2018) and directions are issued there under from time to time.

As per the performance monitoring reports (PMRs) submitted by mobile companies, action taken against unregistered telemarketers (UTMs) during April-2020 to September-2023 include warning notices issued in 11,06,920 cases for first instance of violations; 74,113 telephone connections disconnected for violating regulations for third time and TRAI has imposed financial disincentive amounting to ₹109.92 crore in accordance with the provisions of TCCCPR-2018.

Usage caps were also imposed in 7,90,843 number of cases during investigation of complaints and usage caps were imposed for six months in 1,92,816 number of cases for second instance of violation, Devusinh Chauhan, Minister of State for Communications, recently said in Parliament.

“Since 2019, more than 20 telemarketers, roughly 500 principal entities (PEs), more than 3,000 SMS headers, and more than 40,000 content templates have been put on a blacklist for sending phishing SMS or Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC),” he said.

Rise in spam calls

Replying to a question on increase in unwanted advertising and spam calls by Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, Chauhan said in compliance with the TRAI regulations, telecom service providers (TSPs) have temporarily deactivated more than four-lakh headers and over 11-Lakh content templates to prevent the transmission of promotional messages through unregistered telemarketers or telemarketers using 10-digit telephone number.

Chauhan said government conducted an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) based analysis of the entities sending commercial SMS with their headers and content templates and more than 20,000 PEs, 30,000 SMS headers and 1.95 lakh SMS content templates were removed.

Safety measures

The Government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of telecommunication users and has adopted various security measures including strengthening the existing Know Your Customer (KYC) framework, mandating indisputable verification of each Point of Sale (PoS) by TSPs while registering them for issuing SIM, blacklisting of PoS across all the TSPs in case of non-compliance of instructions and re-verification of all users enrolled by non-compliant PoS, he said.

Impact of these measures include disconnection of 55.52 lakh mobile connections taken on fake/forged documents; 27 lakh requests resolved under ‘Know Your Mobile Connections’ facility; 13.42 lakh suspected mobile connections reported by citizens and disconnected failing re-verification; 5.60 lakh mobile phones traced under ‘Block Your Lost or Stolen Mobile’ facility; and 63,548 mobile phones recovered by State Police and returned to citizens, Chauhan added.