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Post OTP Issues, TRAI Suspends New SMS Scrubbing Rules for 7 Days

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) temporarily suspended the scrubbing of Short Message Service (SMS) by Telecom Service Providers (TSP) on Tuesday for a period of seven days to enable principal entities to register their messaging templates. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked telecom companies to notify their respective principal entities and facilitate their registration within the specified time frame.

Department of Telecommunications (DoT) officials will, on Wednesday, also meet the TSPs, Trai officials, bank executives, and other principal entities that send SMSes to users, and ask them to expedite the process of registration so that this technology could be brought into place as soon as possible, senior government officials said.

The action by Trai comes after the functioning of several SMS-based services of banks and e-commerce platforms was hit on Monday as TSPs implemented the second phase of SMS regulation. As per Trai norms, the content of all SMSes will now be verified before it is allowed to be delivered on the users’ device. This process, known as scrubbing, was implemented from Monday after several delays. The new Trai regulations for principal entities, which will be allowed to send SMSes to customers, seek registration of senders, telemarketers, headers, content, templates, consent templates and subscriber preference.

Trai, in 2018, released a framework under which telcoms could use a distributed ledger technology or blockchain to verify the sender information and content of every commercial SMS before it was delivered on the user’s device. All unregistered commercial senders were banned from sending any SMSes by the new technology.

Blockchain will ensure two things — non-repudiation and confidentiality. Only those authorised to access details will be able to access subscriber details and only when they need to deliver service,” the then Trai Chairman R S Sharma had then said.

Despite reminders from telcos and Trai, most principal entities or agencies that send commercial SMSes had not registered themselves, following which their messages were not getting delivered on Monday. According to Trai, the old technology and platform allowed unscrupulous telemarketers to override the stated preference of the subscriber by claiming consent that may have been surreptitiously obtained.

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