India to enforce national blockchain database for do-not-call register

India to enforce national blockchain database for do-not-call register

India’s telecoms regulator wants to use blockchain to help block spam calls and fraudulent calls.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has started a consultation on ways of recording consent and to enforce regulatory compliance while allowing innovation in the market.

If the project goes ahead, it will be the largest blockchain application in telecoms. Trai says that, since its do-not-disturb (DND) regulations went into force in 2010, “twenty-three crore [230 million] subscribers have registered themselves on the DND registry”.

The wholesale carrier industry is also working on blockchain applications, in this case to reconcile call records and costs, initially in the wholesale voice market. The first proofs of concept have been carried out through the International Telecoms Week Global Leaders’ Forum, and more are planned.

Trai, which is looking for responses to its consultation by 11 June – next Monday – says the problem of spam and fraud calls has not been “fully contained because unscrupulous elements started obtaining customers’ consent, often surreptitiously, or resorted to use of unregistered telemarketers that call or message from a ten-digit number”. It adds: “The incidence of fraud calls has also been on the rise.”

Trai is proposing new regulations that will require “that consent be explicitly recorded by a third party and be activated only after subscribers’ confirmation” and any subscriber will be able to revoke consent at any time.

It will use blockchain distributed ledger technology “to enforce regulatory compliance while allowing innovation in the market”, says the regulator. “Blockchain has proven useful where the objective is to cryptographically secure information and make it available only on need-to-know basis. Yet none may deny their actions or tamper with records, once recorded on the distributed ledger, which uniformly enforces compliance.”

Dean Bubley, whose Disruptive Analysis company is running a seminar on blockchain in telecoms on 3 July, told Capacity: “Blockchain and decentralised ledger technology (DLT) has numerous potential use-cases in the telecoms industry, even though some aspects are undoubtedly overhyped.”

He explained: “The greatest potential seems to be in areas where there is a need for provable, unchangeable data, that is jointly created and administered by a group of participants by consensus, rather than independently or by a central authority. One good example is reconciliation of billing records and settlements between operators.”

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