Calling Name Presentation(CNAP): How is TRAI proposing to help callers identify spammers?

Source: The post is based on the article “How is TRAI proposing to help callers identify spammers?” published in The Hindu on 7th December 2022

What is the News?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has floated a consultation paper seeking comments about the potential introduction of a Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) feature. 

What is a Calling Name Presentation(CNAP)?

CNAP feature would provide an individual with information about the calling party (similar to ‘Truecaller’ and ‘Bharat Caller ID & Anti-Spam’). 

The idea is to ensure that telephone subscribers are able to make an informed choice about incoming calls and curb harassment by unknown or spam callers.

What is the need for CNAP? 

Existing technologies present the number of the calling entity on the potential receiver’s handset.

Since subscribers are not given the name and identity of the caller, they sometimes choose not to answer them believing it could be unsolicited commercial communication from unregistered telemarketers. This could lead to even genuine calls being unanswered.

Additionally, there have been rising concerns about robocalls (calls made automatically using IT-enabled systems with a pre-recorded voice), spam calls and fraudulent calls.

Truecaller’s ‘2021 Global Spam and Scam Report’ revealed that the average number of spam calls per user each month in India, stood at 16.8 while total spam volumes received by its users were in excess of 3.8 billion calls in October alone.

What are the concerns related to CNAP?

According to experts, it is not clear how the CNAP mechanism would balance the caller’s right to remain anonymous, an essential component of the right to privacy. 

To put it into perspective, an individual may opt to remain anonymous for multiple reasons, for example, whistle-blowers or employees being harassed. 

Will CNAP feature be enough to identify spam numbers and block them?

Previously, telemarketers were required to be registered as promotional numbers, making it easier to identify and block them. 

However, now marketers have started deploying people who are not necessarily part of the entity’s set-up, but rather “at-home workers” to whom work is being outsourced. They are given SIM cards not registered to a particular company but rather to the individual themselves.

Hence, just showing the identity would not have much impact. Government must also invest in digital literacy, skilling citizens to navigate and use the tech better, ensuring they do not share their data indiscriminately and are informed about dangers such as financial fraud and spoofing.

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