Soon unwanted mobile phone calls and SMS could become a thing of the past. Telecom operators, including Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, are setting up a new platform to take consent of users who want to receive calls and messages only from specific businesses such as their banks, stock brokers and vendors, while blocking other telemarketers.

This comes after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a circular to all telecom operators to develop and deploy a unified platform called the Digital Consent Acquisition (DCA) facility. The system will allow telecom operators to block all calls and messages that the user has not consented to receive. TRAI expects to develop such facilities within two months.

The new system is an improvement on the existing platform. For example, in the existing system, consent is maintained by third-party principle entities, such as banks, financial services companies, and hospitals etc, which means telecom operators are unable to check for the veracity of the consent, and users cannot revoke consent using a unified framework. 

Under the Do Not Disturb (DND) system users’ consent was given as a default and they had to apply to put their phone numbers under the DND list.

“Even after putting phone numbers under DND, users were getting pesky calls because the telecom operators were not checking. Brands that were using third-party telemarketing agencies were also not looking if they were scrubbing against the DND list before calling. The DCA process will have the facility to seek, maintain and revoke the consent of customers. The consent data thus collected will be shared on a Digital Ledger Platform for scrubbing by all telecom operators thus ensuring that consumers receive calls from businesses only if they give prior consent,” said an industry expert.

Fiat to telcos

TRAI has directed telecom operators to develop and deploy DCA as a priority. In the first phase, only subscriber-initiated consent acquisition has been permitted by TRAI. Subsequently, companies can directly seek consent.

“Initially, principal entities belonging to the banking, insurance, finance and trading-related sectors shall be on-boarded to initiate consent acquisition process and the remaining sectors shall be onboarded subsequently,” TRAI said in a circular.