India’s Telecom Regulator Taps Blockchain to Curb Spam Calls, SMSes

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is turning to blockchain technology to curb telemarketing spam via phone calls and SMSs.

The initiative, the first of its kind, sees the regulator issue draft guidelines on Tuesday to combat the widespread problem of unsolicited calls and communication over mobile SMS, Indian business daily Economic Times reports  According to the regulator, India’s telecom subscriber base hit 1.19 billion usersin December 2017.

With blockchain technology, the TRAI is looking at securing the contact information of hundreds of millions of users cryptographically to ensure privacy. The information will only be available to registered telemarketers under specific conditions.

“The problem is widespread globally,” TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma said, asserting that the authority had failed in previous efforts to check unsolicited telemarketing calls. The regulator said it will also work with telecom operators and other stakeholders to tackle the problem with a regulatory framework while turning to blockchain technology.

The regulator’s chairman told reporters upon issuing the draft guidelines:

“Blockchain will ensure two things — non-repudiable[record keeping] and confidentiality. Only thoseauthorizedd to access details will be able to access subscriber details and only when they need to deliver service… TRAI will become the first organization to implement this kind of regulation.”

Notably, the draft rules will also require subscribers to give consent before receiving any communication. End users wil also be able to review or revoke their consent instantly at any time. The current opt-out system takes a week to register the user’s choice. With blockchain technology, the TRAI official confirmed it “will be activated instantaneously.”

Further, the blockchain ledger will record all communication between subscribers and telecom companies to capture users’ consent for information. To safeguard subscribers who have given consent for communication, the draft is also proposing to prevent the misuse of repeated unsolicited calls.

The proposed framework will first be deployed in a regulatory sandbox wherein users can agree to receiving spam or block it altogether to test the efficiency of the solution.

The ‘Telecom Commercial Customer Preference Regulation’ draft will be open for comment till June 11.

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