Theme:

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed that telecom operators should display the caller’s name to the receiver of the call. Telecom operators have raised concerns about this proposal.

Positives:

  • People will be able to know the identity of the person calling them so that they can make an informed decision.
  • People won’t need to rely on third-party apps like Truecaller, which relies on crowdsourced data, which is often inaccurate.
  • Personal information collected by these third-party apps creates the threat of this information being stolen through a cyber attack. A cyber attack on Truecaller did occur in 2013.
  • As telecom operators will use “Know Your Customer” (KYC) to show the real name of the caller, it will be much more reliable.
  • It will help in protecting people from malicious calls.
  • It will assist people in identifying and avoiding fraudulent phone calls.
  • It could potentially reduce harassment and other spam calls.

Negatives:

  • The telecom operators have raised a concern that smartphone companies and operating system providers, the majority of which are from foreign countries, stealing this sensitive data through the CNAP facility.
  • These companies can then misuse this data for their benefit and market manipulation.
  • These companies can also supply this data to their respective countries, raising concerns about data security.
  • CNAP can also lead to the misuse of a personal mobile phone number by stalkers or malicious people who will obtain a person’s phone number in order to learn their name and personal information, raising privacy concerns.
  • Social and criminal issues can also increase, particularly for women as this information can be used to stalk people on social media and other platforms.
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Challenges for implementation:

  • Currently, the Time-division multiplexing (TDM) based interconnection between different telecom companies does not support CNAP.
  • According to the telecom operators, this technology will not be supported by phones which do not have 4g technology.
  • CNAP will not be supported by many different handsets like feature phones and 4g network smart feature phones.
  • It will be difficult to get permission from or force it on, customers who value their privacy. When a customer calls someone who is not their immediate family, many people do not like having their name displayed.
  • There is also a challenge in sharing the current KYC database and the new ones collected by different telecom operators with one another.

Conclusion:

Although the proposal by TRAI to display caller names during calls is a good step towards safeguarding the public from malicious, fraudulent, harassing, and spam calls, the concerns regarding the implementation of CNAP are valid and must be taken into account when implementing this policy. It is important to find a balance between the benefits of displaying caller names and the potential risks & difficulties of implementation. It is also crucial that the telecom operators and regulators work together to address these issues and find a solution that is in the best interest of the public and national security.

Photo by Michael Burrows

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