TRAI proposes use of blockchain technology to curb spam calls, texts

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday proposed the use of blockchain technology for safeguarding the personal information of the consumers as well as for better check on unsolicited commercial calls. It also mooted stricter regulation for telemarketers for seeking consent from the customers for commercial calls and messages. It released the draft Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018, to check the menace of Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC), or spam calls and messages. Though Trai has proposed the usage of blockchain technology, analysts FE spoke to pointed out that it will be difficult for the Authority to find experts in this field. Getting experts from the industry may prove difficult because it may cost a lot.

The new technology aims to ensure that telemarketing messages are sent only to those who have subscribed to them, and that too by authorized entities. The draft proposes to check misuse of repeated unsolicited calls being made even to those subscribers who have given consent.

The new technology-based norms will record all communication between subscribers and entities, capturing customer consent for information and authorized telemarketing agencies.

A subscriber may have given consent for a service but that consent is liable to be misused. Under the proposed regulation. The subscriber will be able to revoke consent given to entities whenever he or she desires through Trai app and another mechanism that will be provided under the regulation.

The blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records transactions without the need for a financial intermediary, which in most cases is a bank. A blockchain is an anonymous online ledger that uses a data structure to simplify the way we transact. Blockchain allows users to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the help of a third party.

Blockchain enables two entities that do not know each other to agree that something is true without the need for a third party. As opposed to writing entries into a single sheet of paper, a blockchain is a distributed database that takes a number of inputs and places them into a block. Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block using a cryptographic signature. This allows blockchains to be used as a ledger which is accessible by anyone with permission to do so.  If everyone in the process is pre-selected, the ledger is termed ‘permissioned’. If the process is open to the whole world, the ledger is called unpermissioned.

A blockchain is anonymous, protecting the identities of the users. This makes blockchain a more secure way to carry out transactions. The algorithm used in blockchain reduces the dependence on people to verify the transactions.

The blockchain is still a (relatively) new technology and is not without its problems. For a start, there are ongoing concerns about privacy in the settlement and storage of securities – blockchain providers are working hard to address.

Banks are also a threat with blockchain since more and more firms (using their IT service providers from India and elsewhere) will build systems that can create and exchange ‘blocks’ with one another completely legally, without ever having to use the banks as a financial intermediary.

The blockchain is not a panacea for all issues facing the banking system today. However, blockchain is an ideal technology to ensure proof of integrity to the data and reduce incidents of fraud.

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