PTA Suggests New Regulations to Put an End to Spam Calls & SMS

PTA plans to control the unwanted messages and calls, usually referred to as spam, unsolicited, fraudulent and obnoxious communications, that always cause inconvenience and irritation to the customers.

Such communication cannot totally be eradicated as there is no such system that guarantees protection against spam. Nonetheless, PTA had promulgated the ‘Protection from Spam, Unsolicited, Fraudulent and Obnoxious Communication Regulations, 2009’ and ‘Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2009’ to safeguard consumers’ interests.

Accordingly, unwanted and undesired calls and SMS were controlled through various steps introduced by the regulator and cellular operators in the past that maintain a grey list for the spam generators and block obnoxious calls through *420# or similar services.

The authority now plans to amend the above regulations on the recommendations to be received from various stakeholders. The decision was taken in the light of notice taken by the Lahore High Court against the transmission of text messages by unauthorized housing societies.

The authority has issued a consultation paper proposing a few amendments in the regulations and seeking input from operators and customers.

PTA Proposed Actions
  1. Cellular operators will discontinue selling bulk SMS packages unless approved by the authority and SMS should be charged on per SMS basis. In addition, SMS charges/tariff should be uniform across the industry.
  2. The maximum number of SMS should be restricted to 500 per day per subscription.
  3. Action on fraudulent, unsolicited, marketing calls or SMS shall be initiated on complaint of the consumer as stated above. In addition, the complainant may also forward the content of SMS on short-code 9000 for verification or blocking.
  4. In case of fraudulent, unsolicited, marketing calls or SMS, the phone number or IMEI of the caller will be blocked after verification from CDR without issuing any warning.
  5. All (Long Distance Internationals) LDIs will need to establish large accounts with international operators subject to provision of the following information to the Authority:
    • Sender ID of large account
    • Content of SMS such as one time password, transaction acknowledgment from a Bank etc.
  6. All CMOs and CVAS registration holders to establish large accounts with each other subject to the following conditions:
    • Sender ID should be set to PTA’s approved shortcode or PTA’s approved alphanumeric ID against approved shortcode.
    • Content should be PTA approved.
  7. Instead of Do Not Call Register (DNCR), Do Call/SMS Register will be developed and introduced so the consumer receives the desired communication only. However, DNCR may continue until a Do SMS register is developed.
  8. LDI operators will also develop software to block any incoming international call/SMS from a foreign operator with calling party number with Pakistan Code like +92-000000.
  9. As a preventive measure, LDI operators will develop software to block such calling party numbers at their network.
  10. Awareness campaign needs to be launched on a large scale through SMS, national and local newspapers, social media accounts of PTA and FM radio. However, awareness should be in simple and plain language (English, Urdu and if possible primary local languages) so that it would be understandable.

More details can be seen here.