New rules for pesky calls lead to SMS outages

New rules for pesky calls lead to SMS outages

NEW DELHI: Lakhs of consumers across the country faced mobile messaging outage for bank and payment OTPs, company service and promotional matters and even for aadhaar and Covid vaccination drive schedules (through CoWin platform) with telecom companies implementing Trai’s rules for registration and standardisation of customer communication to guard against pesky and fraudulent messages.
The new standards, based on blockchain technology, have been pending since 2019, and telcos have finally implemented them amid rising instances of unsolicited commercial communication, pesky calls and even phishing attacks through mobile phones.
Telecom companies such as Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea mandated the standards post Sunday midnight (0001 hours Monday) and this caught many companies, banks, and even government agencies by surprise.
“The measure was taken as per Trai’s directive. While there were customer outages on Monday as the day started, we are hopeful that these would be sorted out soon as corporates, telemarketers, banks and payment companies and government agencies fall in line with the mandate,” top mobile industry officials told TOI.
As per Trai’s mandate, companies, banks and payment companies, government agencies and telemarketers need to link themselves with telecom operators, and also register the messaging templates (mostly the content of communication) to get their messages through to the customers (the process is known as content scrubbing).
Telecom industry officials claim that they had been prodding all of them to register at the earliest, but there have still been delays. “And with the Delhi high court recently seeking implementation of the guidelines, we had no option but to enforce the same,” a senior executive with a big telco said.
Telecom industry officials said that after consumers started complaining about problems in banking and payment services, they gave leniency in some of the critical transactions. Even the Aadhaar and CoWin platform messaging was restored so that important transactional messaging could be carried out unhindered.
“The relaxation was given with a clear understanding that all the necessary registrations would be completed over the next one or two days. Or else we will have no other option but to discontinue the messaging services of those left unregistered,” the official said. The implementation, however, had created problems for lakhs of customers who kept on waiting for OTPs and other crucial messages, but all in vain. Many of them complained to banks and payment companies about incomplete transactions but help was difficult to get.
Trai had sought implementation of the measure was unsolicited commercial communication continued unabated and there was no respite even after the rollout of the do-not-disturb (DND) service.
The government is also getting stricter on the menace and has decided to impose penalty on the tele-marketers, while disconnecting resources in case of repeat violations. Also, the Centre is setting up a Digital Intelligence Unit (DIU) to coordinate with various stakeholders when investigating fraudulent activities that are conducted using telecom resources, communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the middle of last month.
The minister directed telecom ministry officials to conduct a meeting with mobile operators and tele-marketers to apprise them of the seriousness of the issue and to ensure compliance with the laid-down rules and procedures. For effective handling of unsolicited commercial communication and also tackle financial frauds, it has been decided to develop a web/mobile application and SMS-based system for redressal mechanism. “This will enable telecom subscribers to lodge their complaints related to matters involving UCC,” the government said.

Source From : Times Of India

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