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Stakeholders highlight problems with Indian Telecom Regulator’s proposal to identify callers

TRAI’s open house discussion on its proposal threw up questions on feasibility and proportionality of CNAP vis-a-vis privacy


“How is someone’s privacy violated if they call someone and the person comes to know who you are?” PD Vaghela, Chairman, TRAI, wondered aloud during a discussion on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) proposal to identify callers to curb spam. “For example, if you are having a meeting with someone, can you choose to not declare your name but have a meeting? TRAI has been a vociferous supporter of privacy,” he clarified, adding that privacy is sacred and cannot be violated. Vaghela questioned whether it would be a valid argument from the point of privacy. He also highlighted how nobody had objected to the use of crowd-sourced data by private applications. Nikhil Pahwa, Founder and Editor, MediaNama, responded to Vaghela by explaining how the context of Puttaswamy judgement is relevant to the CNAP (Calling Name Presentation) proposal. Necessity: Pahwa highlighted the measure of necessity in order to deliver the service. He elaborated his point by saying that it was not necessary to share names for the call to be completed or for receiving the call. Proportionality: Pahwa then asked whether it was proportionate to collect data of all citizens to prevent the harm caused by spammers and scammers. “Is it proportionate to the prevention of the harm or not? This is typically determined by courts but you can't assume that everyone is a criminal, and, therefore, everyone must give their data to meet that end." Vaghela asked if this argument will apply to the display of the mobile number itself…

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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