TRAI said Thursday that all major businesses such as banks, financial institutions and others must complete the process of reviewing message headers and content templates immediately as the telecoms regulator ramps up efforts to tackle annoying messages to protect consumers. Any delay on the part of Principal Entities (PEs) in re-validating headers and content templates may result in the banning of their headers, content templates and messages, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has warned.
TRAI said it would review progress over the next two weeks and provide appropriate guidance if needed.
“As such, all PEs should immediately complete the process of reviewing headers and content templates,” TRAI said in a statement.
Businesses such as banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, trading companies, business units, etc. send commercial messages to telecommunications subscribers via SMS. These entities are referred to as Principal Entities (PEs) in the TRAI regulations.
Any commercial communication, according to the legal framework, can only be done via registered headers assigned to the PEs for this purpose. The header refers to an alphanumeric string assigned to PEs according to regulations for sending commercial communications.
These commercial companies are obliged to register content templates with the access providers (telecommunications companies). Any commercial communication via SMS is subject to sanitization based on the content template registered by the PEs with the access provider. If this fails, these SMS should not be delivered to consumers.
TRAI has observed that some PEs have registered a large number of headers and content templates and some of them are sometimes abused by some telemarketers.
To prevent this, on February 16, 2023, TRAI ordered all registered headers and content templates on the DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) platform to be re-inspected and all unverified headers and message templates to be blocked within 30 and 60 days, respectively.
In February 2023, TRAI wrote to RBI, SEBI, NHA and all central/state government departments, urging them to sensitize various institutions and departments under their jurisdiction that send bulk SMS to the actions that need to be taken on their part to to ensure that header and message templates are not abused.
“It has been found that many PEs have not yet completed the review of headers and content templates. Because the PEs do not take timely action, headers and content templates assigned to these PEs remain vulnerable to potential misuse and can lead to public inconvenience in the form of spam and also financial fraud,” TRAI said.