The move to implement the second phase of SMS regulation by telecom companies in India has led to the disruption of crucial services, The Economic Times reported on Monday. People are struggling to get one-time password or OTPs from banks and e-commerce companies for payments, and the Aadhaar authentication service has also crashed.
Last month, the Delhi High Court had directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to strictly ensure that telecom operators enforce regulations to stop the use of unsolicited commercial communication, and the use of fake SMS headers to dupe customers. SMS headers are unique IDs through which commercial text messages are sent.
As per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s guidelines, every SMS content with a registered template must be verified before it is delivered. This process is known as scrubbing and was implemented on Monday after multiple delays.
To control SMS frauds, a blockchain-based solution is used by telecom operators to check the header and content of every commercial SMS which comes from a registered source, according to The Economic Times. Meanwhile, unregistered messages are simply blocked.
Defending their system, operators attributed the disruption of SMS traffic to laxity among companies in adopting regulatory standards. “Close to 50% traffic is getting dropped because of content scrubbing,” an unidentified top executive at a leading telemarketing firm told The Economic Times. “Officials from India’s top banks including HDFC and SBI are extremely furious and dialing TRAI to address the mess at the earliest.”
Operators also put the responsibility on telemarketers and individual businesses to comply with the standards laid out for services to continue smoothly. “Delhi High Court has ordered speedy implementation of the regulation,” another senior telecom executive told The Economic Times. “We have done our part and activated due process of content scrubbing. Despite abundant time given to companies, if they are still cribbing about not being prepared, it is not [the] telecom companies’ fault.”
A head of A2P or application-to-person messaging business said it was a “crazy situation” so far. “Exactly what we feared is happening today,” the official said, the newspaper reported. “Even normal promotional messages are getting dropped by small changes in content like a full stop. [The] TRAI must intervene and address the situation at the earliest because if they won’t, ultimately RBI [Reserve Bank of India] will.”