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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has requested telecom operators to create a digital consent acquisition (DCA) for maintaining and revoking customers' access to promotional texts and calls.

"Considering [the] volume of work involved, TRAI has allocated two months time to develop such facilities by all Access Providers and thereafter implement it in a phased manner," TRAI said in a statement. TRAI issued this directive under its Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 (TCCCPR-2018).

This marks the withdrawal from the existing system where consent is obtained, managed and maintained by several entities such as banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, trading companies, business entities and real state companies, which are referred to as principal entities (PEs) in the TCCCPR, 2018 Regulations.

“Therefore, it is not possible for the Access Providers to check veracity of consents. Further, there is no unified system for customers to provide or revoke the consent,” TRAI added.

To further address these challenges, TRAI highlighted that the DCA process should include features to seek, maintain and revoke customer consent in line with the procedures outlined in the TCCCPR-2018 Regulations. The gathered consent data will be shared on a digital ledger platform (DLT) for verification by all access providers.

The telcos have also been instructed to use a common short code, 127xxx, for sending consent-seeking messages. “These messages should clearly indicate the purpose, scope of consent and the name of the principal entity/brand. Only whitelisted URLs, APKs, OTT links and callback numbers should be used in these messages.”

Aside from that, telcos have been asked to establish an online SMS/IVR facility where customers can register their unwillingness to receive any consent-seeking messages made by principal entities (PEs).

“In the first phase, only subscriber-initiated consent acquisition has been permitted by TRAI. Subsequently, PE-initiated consent acquisition shall be permitted. Initially, Principal Entities belonging to the Banking, Insurance, Finance and Trading related sectors shall be on-boarded to initiate Consent Acquisition process and the remaining sectors shall be onboarded subsequently,” the telecom regulator said.

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