India Consults on Using Calling Name Presentation to Tackle Scam Calls

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) wants Indian telcos to supplement the CLIs of voice calls by also showing the originator’s name on the handset of recipients. The motivation is to protect subscribers from scammers by helping them to understand who is calling. The regulator has issued a consultation paper asking for feedback on how the country could implement Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) with a deadline of December 27 for comments and a second deadline of January 10 for counter-comments.

The move was widely touted by the Indian press, though they got ahead of themselves by claiming the new CNAP systems were almost ready to be rolled out when they should have just said a consultation was imminent. Nevertheless, they correctly anticipated that CNAP would be pitched as an improvement on the data presented by popular commercial identification apps like Truecaller. Per the consultation paper:

At present, smartphone users make use of native smartphone tools and third-party apps to identify the calling party name and mark spam calls. Apple (manufacturer of iPhones) has a ‘silence unknown numbers’ feature on its mobile handsets. The Google Phone app for Android has a ‘caller ID and spam’ protection option that allows phone users to mark incoming calls as spam. Third-party apps like ‘Truecaller’ and ‘Bharat Caller ID & Anti-spam’ also provide calling party name identification and spam identification facilities. The native smartphone tools and third party apps, generally, provide name identification services based on crowd-sourced data. However, the crowd-sourced name identity information may not be reliable, in many instances.

TRAI’s consultation outlines four ways the necessary identification data may be passed from the originating telco to the terminating telco.

  1. The originating telco maintains a database of names and this data is sent to the terminating telco along the signaling path whilst the call is being set-up.
  2. The terminating telco does a look-up for the caller’s name as stored on the originating telco’s database as the call is being set-up.
  3. All telcos look up the caller’s name from a centralized national database maintained by a third party.
  4. Each terminating telco looks up name information stored on their own telco’s database, and the contents of that database are synchronized with a centralized national database on a daily basis.

One area where TRAI appears less certain is the desirability of forcing everybody to share their presentation information. Women and vulnerable phone users may prefer to sometimes remain anonymous when making calls. The consultation paper asks respondents to comment on whether CNAP should be mandatory for all, or how users should otherwise give their consent.

TRAI’s detailed consultation paper and a perfunctory press release can be found here.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.