The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) held a review meeting with telecom operators to discuss the issue of unsolicited commercial communications (UCC). The regulator directed the telcos to take immediate action to curb pesky calls and messages by getting banks and financial institutions (FIs) to clean up unused templates.

During the meeting, Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) made a presentation on an artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) system that can analyse and detect patterns when it comes to fraudulent messages being sent from mobile numbers by scammers. TRAI said that permission would now be given to Vi for a pilot, and based on its success, TRAI will come out with principles/regulations for such solutions in the industry. The deadline for review of the implementation of the UCC detect system using AI/ML is May 1, 2023. From the same day, blockchain-based distributed ledger technology (DLT) system will also be implemented for voice calls, just like it is in place for unsolicited messages at present.

Further, TRAI reviewed the implementation of directions it had issued on the clean-up of headers and content templates and asked telcos to take immediate action to curb pesky calls and messages. Telcos will nudge principal entities (PEs) such as banks, FIs and others to clean up unused headers and templates immediately. The regulator wants banks, FIs and other PEs in the business of sending SMS to take action immediately and clean up headers and templates, and if they fail to do so, TRAI will be constrained to block their messages in DLT in consumer interest. All PEs will be required to block unused headers and templates within 30 days and 60 days, respectively.

In addition, complaints received at the cyber crime cell of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be shared with all telecom service providers for necessary action. The action plan for UCC crackdown also includes the sharing of information on suspected spammers and scammers by service providers on the common platform and the blocking of messages transaction proactively, as well as bringing all voice-based telemarketers on a common platform (DLT) for better monitoring and control. TRAI is also keen that fresh series of numbers be allocated for voice calls (related to transaction or service calls) made by banks and other entities.