Blockchain fight against spam may not be landslide victory

NEW DELHI: As November ends, telcos will be ready to crack down on pesky calls and messages, following the regulator’s mandate to use blockchain technology for it. However, the new system may not be able to curb spamming entirely.

“It will definitely benefit organised telemarketers who want to follow the law of land. To make this initiative successful, it is necessary all stakeholders come together to ensure the governance and enforcement of the technology. While unsolicited phone spamming by miscreants may continue, blockchain technology can help with traceability and bring in accountability,” said Prashant Garg, partner, data and analytics, at EY India.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Lok Sabha this week that consumers filed over 326,000 complaints of unsolicited telemarketing calls with their mobile service providers during July-September. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India mandated telcos to adopt blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology that allows only registered users to participate in telemarketing and this system is likely to be launched by the end of November.

Rajan Mathews, director general at the Cellular Operators Authority of India, said telcos are ready with the blockchain-based system, but customers have to be educated in setting their DND preferences for the process to be effective. He backed the assessment that the new system may not be able to curb the menace entirely.

“The profit margin for illegal marketers is good enough for them to want to continue. So we suggested Trai should raise call/SMS charges for these people so that they don’t have an incentive to continue,” said Mathews. According to some telemarketers, machine learning and artificial intelligence, coupled with strict monitoring by the regulator, can plug the loopholes that telcos are worried about.

“Telemarketers will certainly keep switching numbers to spam. But now there are penalties on these guys who are unregistered or have not taken…

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