TRAI

An Android app has been launched to allow consumers to register complaints against telemarketers who spam users. Surprisingly, this app has been launched by the Indian telecom regulator TRAI, which has a series of rules to prevent SMS and phone calling spam.

There are applications already in the market – India against spam is a popular one – and the TRAI app works in a similar manner. The app accesses a user’s call log and SMS list; it then displays both lists within the app itself. A user can select a single or multiple calls or SMS and then register those as a complaint with the TRAI. For this, the user needs to be registered on the Do Not Disturb registry, which the app also allows.

Why is the TRAI doing this?

sms-spam-transactionalWe can only guess, but this is a welcome move from the TRAI. The problem right now is that complaints made by consumers to TRAI are largely being rejected by telecom operators, on frivolous grounds. For example: I’ve had instances where legitimate complaints filed for promotional messages have been rejected for not enough information being included in the message. Complaints about spam phone calls invariably get rejected, because “the communication you received was not found to be promotional in nature”. There are times where the complaint never got addressed because “response from other operator was awaited”. Of course, repeatedly, the transactional pipe is being used for promotional messages. For example, the message on your right.

The most bizarre one: “No action has been taken as the reported promotional call/SMS was not found in the records of the other operator”.

When telecom operator incentives are aligned towards allowing allowing their SMS or calling systems to used for promotion, you can hardly expect them to make it easy to report or fine either themselves or other telecom operators.

In all of this, the TRAI has also seemed to care little about this regulation, or about consumers being spammed. We hope that now that the TRAI has launched its own application, it will get a better sense of the spam that consumers are facing, and hopefully, be in a position to do random sampling to check whether the telecom operators are doing the right thing.

The problem with the application is that it appears to be buggy:

trai-sms-spam-app-complaints

The timeline:
– Dec 01, 2010: TRAI issues SMS Spam guidelines. Our coverage of issues with the SMS Spam regulations here.
– Dec 15, 2010: TRAI postpones SMS Spam Regulations
– Feb 01, 2011: TRAI Postpones SMS Spam Regulations Till March 1st; Changes Number Series
– Mar 07, 2011: TRAI Do Not Call, SMS Spam Regulations Postponed Again Till 21st March
– Mar 21, 2011: TRAI Postpones Do Not Call Regulations Indefinitely
– Mar 25, 2011: TRAI: Announcement On SMS Spam Regulations In 15 Days
– Jul 12, 2011: SMS Spam Regulations To Come Into Force Soon; DoT To Release Landline Number Series For Telemarketers
– September, 5 2011: India’s SMS Spam Regulations To Be Applicable On 27th September 2011
– September 27 2011: TRAI Relaxes 100 SMS Per Day Restriction For E-Tickets, Social Networks, Directories, DTH & More
-October 27, 2011: TRAI’s SMS License Raj: Expands Telemarketer Definition To Include E-commerce, Brokers, Insurance & More
-October 27, 2011: TRAI Imposes Additional Charge Of 5 Paise On Promotional SMS
-November 1, 2011: TRAI Extends Daily SMS Limit To 200; Why Not Scrap It?
-January 23, 2012: TRAI Issues Directives To Tackle SMS Spam From International Numbers
-November 5, 2012: TRAI Issues New Guidelines To Curb Spam SMS; Sets Free SMS Cap Of 100 Per Day
-May 27, 2013: TRAI Introduces New Policy To Regulate SMS Spam & Commercial Calls
-August 22, 2013: Finally! TRAI To Fine Telcos Rs 5000, Ban Marketers For SMS Spam
-December 3, 2013: TRAI Reduces Telemarketer Registration Fees
-April 10, 2014: TRAI’s New Policy For Restoration Of Numbers In Banned For Spam Messages Is Arbitrary
-December 11, 2014: TRAI starts allowing two-way transactional SMS