From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Calling Name Presentation (CNAP)
Mains level : Caller spams these days
Telecom operators have expressed concerns over user privacy on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) proposal.
Calling Name Presentation (CNAP)
- Under this phones would need to display the name of a caller, by extracting the name of the telecom subscriber from their SIM registration data.
- The feature would provide the called 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.
Why need CNAP?
- Securing important calls: Genuine calls should not get unanswered. Hence proper system is solicited.
- Blocking of spammers: Since subscribers are not given the name and identity of the caller, they may choose not to answer them believing it could be commercial communication from unregistered telemarketers.
- Rise of robocalls: There have been rising concerns about robocalls (calls made automatically using IT-enabled systems with a pre-recorded voice), spam calls and fraudulent calls.
What are the proposed models?
The regulator has proposed four models for facilitating the CNAP mechanism-
- TSPs operating CNAP database: The first model involves each telecom service provider (TSP) establishing and operating a CNAP database of its subscribers. Here, the caller’s TSP would have to extract the relevant data from its own database.
- Database sharing: In the second model, the operator of the calling entity shares its CNAP database with the receiver’s operator. The difference here is that the calling operator would permit the receiver’s operator to access its database for the caller’s CNAP data.
- Creating a Centralised database: The onus rests on the receiver’s operator to delve into the centralized database to retrieve and present the caller’s data. This model is similar to a plan envisaged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in 2018, involving the setting up of a Digital Intelligence Unit at the central level.
- Centralized CNAP database: TSP retains a copy of a synchronized central database operated by a third party. It works this way: the call is facilitated as per the routine procedure, and since the receiver’s operator has access to both the centralized and their own database, the lookup is, therefore, internal.
- Latency: The regulator has said that latency in setting up the call must be ensured and CNAP must be inter-operable. The responsiveness might also suffer when moving from a faster wireless network (4G or 5G) to a comparatively slower one (2G or 3G), or vice-versa.
- Privacy Issue: 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.
- Gendered impact: The proposal may particularly harm women. The service will display a woman subscriber’s name and data, to every calling party whether or not she consents to it.
- Data sharing without consent: We have to see it in parallel with The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (2022) which has a clause on deemed consent lacking adequate safeguards including sharing of data with third parties.
- Implementation loopholes: Marketers have figured out newer ways to circumvent the existing framework. Previously, telemarketers were required to be registered as promotional numbers. Now they have started deploying people not necessarily part of the entity’s set-up, but rather “at-home workers”.
- Innovative solution: TRAI must build an interface that is user-friendly and in turn, an effective mechanism.
- Spam identification: Active participation from the subscribers would ensure that spammers are rightly identified and are unable to make further calls.
- Digital literacy: The government must also invest in digital literacy, skilling citizen’s 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.