Telemarketer slams Trai on faulty implementation of system to check pesky SMSes/calls

Telemarketing company Venets Media in the ongoing lawsuit with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has alleged that the authority in the garb of demonstrating ‘progress’ towards growing numbers of registered entities and headers has cause...

New Delhi: The “hasty, reckless and vindictive” implementation of telecom regulator’s directive on commercial SMS has created chaos by assigning irrelevant headers to brands and businesses, a telemarketer has said in a court filing.

Telemarketing company Venets Media in the ongoing lawsuit with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (trai) has alleged that the authority in the garb of demonstrating ‘progress’ towards growing numbers of registered entities and headers has caused much damage to the entire process.

Headers are unique IDs assigned to telemarketers via which they can send commercial SMS (such as VM-HDFCBANK). Trai’s list shows that headers with SBI and RBI in the character string have been assigned to certain unrelated tech companies which may "mislead" a common recipient.


The petitioner said that although the Telecom Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) 2018 clearly provides for additional checks to be done in case of proximity and similarity of headers, they have been allotted “recklessly, with scant or no regard for brand relevance and proximity checks.”

For instance, “the industry sectors covered under just these two brand identities (APPOLO and APOLLO) include tyres, hospitals, steels, insurance, forex, real estate, transport, aviation, garments, bio chem, cements, cables, hotels, batteries, ceramics, granites, chit funds, dairy farms, exports, software, IT parks, fishing, footwear, to name a few,” the company said in a writ petition filed in the Delhi High Court on September 11.

The regulator, in November 2018, had mandated telecom companies to deploy blockchain-based solution for curbing the growing menace of spam SMS by registering brands, their headers and SMS content on the system.
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Trai in its progress report last month said that 86,766 principal entities, 1.46 lakh SMS headers and 1.5 lakh content templates have been onboarded and complaints against unsolicited senders have fallen from 86,000 in September 2019 to 26,000 in July 2020.

However, the first of its kind solution in the world has been facing heat from small telemarketers and payments company Paytm for poor implementation. Additionally, a public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme court for infringement of citizens’ right to privacy.

Venets Media has told the court that it is not against the regulation as it aims to serve larger public interest but plead that Trai should be directed to come up with a transparent mechanism in assignment of headers.
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