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Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed the introduction of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP).

What is Calling Name Presentation?

  • 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.

What is its Purpose?

  • 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.
  • 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 2022 alone.

What are the Challenges?

Latency: There is a likelihood of a slight increase in the time taken to set up a call. 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: It is not particularly 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. It would be ideal that a framework is developed along those lines rather than asking a centralized database operated by a third party to host and share data.

Way Forward

Just by showing the identity would not mean much, once the system (to identify and mark spammers) gets built and hundreds of people are able to utilize the system, only then would the system have a meaningful impact. The interface should be user friendly with an effective mechanism. Active participation from the subscribers would ensure that spammers are rightly identified and are unable to make further calls. The 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 frauds and spoofing.