TRAI came up with a detailed regulation to curb the menace of Unsolicited Commercial Calls (UCC). The complete guideline can be downloaded from TRAI website.
All the Telemarketers, Large and Small Businesses, Online Free SMS providers and any business using SMS as a platform to communicate with the users in the country are required to follow the guidelines from February 1 2011. Failing to adhere has severe consequences such as a fine upto 7 lakh rupees and being blacklisted from sending SMS for 2 years.
There are major things in play here:
First, the messages would be categorized into two categories. Transactional Messages and Non-transactional Messages. Transactional Messages will reach you irrespective of whether you have registered in National Do not Disturb registry. TRAI has defined what a Transactional message is. “Transactional message” means an SMS containing only— (i) information sent to its customer(s) by the Bank or financial institution or insurance company or credit card company or Access Provider pertaining to the account of that customer(s); (ii) information given by Airlines or Indian Railways or its authorised agencies to its passengers regarding travel schedules, ticket booking and reservation; (iii) information from a registered educational institution to parents or guardians of its students; (iv) any other message as may be specified by the Authority, from time to time as “Transactional message”; . So as you see only Financial institutions, Insurance companies, Credit Card companies, Mobile operators, Educational Institutions, Railways and Airlines are allowed to send Transactional Messages. All other messages fall under Non-transactional category. These non-transactional messages or otherwise called as promotional messages will not reach you if you have registered in Do not disturb registry. If you receive, you can complain and the complaint will be taken seriously.
Second, The promotional messages can be sent only between 9am and 9pm. If you receive any message in the restricted timeframe, you can sue :)
Third, The Sender Identification with Brand names that you see today is going to become passe except for the category of institutions mentioned before. All the sender Ids that originate promotional messages will have the following pattern XY-5ZZZZZ. Example TA-512345 Whic essentially says that the message originated from Tata Andhra pradesh for the category consumer goods and automobiles from Telemarketer id 12345.
These basic enforcements hopefully should have some repurcussions on the commercial spam that we witness today. Lemme see what I received today. I received 10 SMS from property dealers, 5 SMS from people who offer services such as passport assistance, plumbing, etc., 3 other random SMS. From February 1 2011, if I register myself under the national do not disturb registry, all the above SMS should stop..right? Fingers crossed and lets hope the SMS spam comes to an end.
But there is a problem here. There are cases which fall under necessity for some and unnecessary for some. Some examples include Movie Ticket booking, Voucher code distribution etc., Right now, the kind of control we have is very broad. Either opt-in and opt-out at the category level (only 7 categories). It would have been great if we can little more fine-grained control through more sub-categories or at a source level. It's a great start, I am sure we will evolve...Cheers to TRAI.
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