Indian Telecom Regulator Says Blockchain Protects User Data, Will Curb Spam Calls and Messages

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has backed the Hyderabad-based software company Tanla Solutions from telemarketers’ accusations that it has an unfair competitive advantage over smaller firms reports The Economic Times on June 16, 2020. TRAI was responding to a petition filed by Venets Media in a New Delhi court.

TRAI Backs Tanla Which Implements Blockchain Technology

Tanla is the distributed ledger technology (DLT) implementing partner for leading telecoms in India comprising Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. The latter is a telemarketer that controls 40 percent of the Indian market. 

Venets Media asserts that it is unfair that they have to submit “customers’ critical information to a private player with similar business interests.” 

Citing a lack of substantive and solid evidence to muffle Tanla, the regulator’s decision is a boost for DLT firms seeking to leverage its distribution, transparency, and decentralization to secure data.

The TCCCPR-2018 Regulations

TRAI said the use of technology like blockchain to secure user data was in line with the country’s laws as spelled under the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR) 2018 regulation. 

As per TRAI’s explanation:

The regulation (TCCCPR-2018) does not prescribe any boundation on the Principal Entity or entities with telemarketing functions to register with or use services of any particular access provider. It has been left to be decided by the market forces.

Simply, the regulation seeks to deal with spam calls and messages or Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC). 

Enforcement means sending companies including telemarketers must register before sending messages or making calls. This will help TRAI to curb against fraud companies. 

Towards this goal, one salient feature of the TCCCPR 2018 regulation was the advocacy for DLT or blockchain technology as a RegTech for regulatory compliance and innovation.

Venets Media May Move to the Supreme Court

Venets Media (the petitioner), TRAI argues, seems to base their claims on imaginative concerns yet they didn’t participate in the two-year-long consultative process when the regulation was being framed. With another similar case set for hearing on June 24, Venets Media may move to the Supreme Court.

In March 2020, the Supreme Court of India overturned a decision by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barring cryptocurrency exchanges from engaging with local banks. The country’s top court said there was no evidence to show that digital currencies had directly damaged banks regulated by RBI.

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