The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a draft titled “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Tenth Amendment) Regulations, 2012” looking to revise the measures taken earlier last year, for curbing SMS Spam (Unsolicited Commercial Communications). Targeting mostly unregistered telemarketers in the proposed draft, TRAI suggests that:

– First SMS Offence: any unregistered telecom marketer will be charged Rs. 500 for sending an UCC through SMS for the first time, and will result in disconnection of telecom service on the second instance.
– First Voice Offence: any unregistered telecom marketer will be warned for sending an UCC through voice for the first time, will be charged Rs. 500 for the second time and will result in disconnection of telecom services on the third time.
– Customer Complaints: customer may lodge a complaint against UCC by sending an SMS to 1909 in following format: “short description of Unsolicited Commercial Communication;  XXXXXXXXXX; date in dd/mm/yy” discontinuation of telecom resources for a period of one year for offenders whose telecom resources have been disconnected.
– Operations To Warn Customers: TRAI also wants access providers to send an SMS blast twice in a year advising consumers not to send any commercial communications.
– Customer Undertaking: Apart from that, customers have to take an undertaking from the subscriber at the time of purchasing the SIM that they won’t use the number for telemarketing purpose.

Previously, TRAI had launched a web portal at — nccptrai.gov.in — for customers to lodge a complaint against commercial communication where telecom service providers could take action against such complaints. Trai has asked comments from stakeholders on the regulation by August 18, 2012.

Our Take: Hold Marketers & Telcos Accountable (Nikhil adds)

Why just penalize telemarketers for the communications? Why not also penalize businesses for spamming customers? For example, in May this year, I received 19 spam SMS’ from Club Mahindra over a period of two days. I complained to Anand Mahindra on Twitter, and the company later said that they removed my name from the listings. Still, last week, I got another message from Club Mahindra, once again, using the unregistered telemarketer route. As long as there are people willing to pay for spamming, businesses will find a way to circumvent the rules. Ban specific companies from using mobile for sending marketing communications if they circumvent the rules.

Most of these messages are being sent from modem farms, which use multiple SIM cards for messaging, and these SIM cards are typically bought in bulk from telcos. Telecos whose resources are being used for sending SMS Spam and voice calls should also be held accountable for not doing proper verification, and fined accordingly.

Now that the courts have removed the 200 SMS per SIM limit, unregistered telemarketers will probably need to use less SIM cards.

Regulating SMS Spam timeline

In September 2011, TRAI had directed all access providers to limit sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM or three thousand SMS per month per SIM and ensure that any commercial communication including SMS, other than transactional messages, is sent to a customer only between 0900 Hrs to 2100 Hrs. TRAI had also relaxed 100 SMS per day restriction for e-tickets, social networks, directories, DTH & More.

In November 2011, TRAI had extended the daily SMS limit from the existing 100 SMS to 200 SMS and had imposed an additional 5 paise charge on Promotional SMS.

In July 2012, the Delhi High Court removed the 200 SMS/day limit through a mobile phone SIM for personal communications, stating that the current SMS spam guidelines infringe the freedom of speech of the citizens, and the conditions imposed upon citizens are not reasonable.

Related:

– Do TRAI’s Amended SMS Spam Regulations Exempt Free Content Subscriptions From DND?
– Updated: TRAI Blacklists OnMobile & Four Others For Violating Telemarketing Rules
– Telemarketers Sending Promotional Messages On Transactional Pipe
– TRAI Disconnects 22,769 Spammers; 161.66M Subscribers Registered With NCPR 
– TRAI Issues Directives To Tackle SMS Spam From International Numbers 
– TRAI Exempts JaxtrSMS, Latlong & Hike From 200 SMS/Day Limit
Delhi High Court’s Removes The 200 SMS Per Day Limit In India