In news– Telecom operators have said that the CNAP proposal by the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) of India to display callers’ names could have privacy implications.
About Caller Name Presentation (CNAP)-
- In November 2022, TRAI floated a consultation paper seeking comments about the potential introduction of CNAP.
- The feature will allow users to know the identity of the person when they call them.
- The basic idea is that if people are aware of the person who is calling them, they can make an informed choice about those calls.
- At the same time, such a feature could potentially help in curbing harassment and other spam calls.
- Currently, there are some applications which offer a similar service, for instance, Truecaller.
- However, all of them are third-party apps and depend on crowd-sourced data. There is no unifying solution offered by telecom operators.
Key proposals by TRAI-
The regulator has proposed four possible methods through which the CNAP feature can be rolled out:
- The first model includes telcos managing a CNAP database of their respective subscribers and when its user makes a call to a user on another network, extract their data from the database and present it to the receiving telco’s user.
- The second model is similar to the first one except that in this case, the operator through which the call is made will permit the receiving operator to access its CNAP database.
- In the third model, TRAI has envisaged a third party operating a centralised database. In this case, the receiving operator would be responsible to delve into the centralised database to retrieve and present the caller’s data.
- The fourth model would require that each telco retain a copy of a synchronised central database operated by a third party.
Opposition to the proposal-
- Telcos seem to be in two minds over the proposed feature, saying that it has both privacy risks and could become a complex technical exercise.
- They have largely said that the feature should be optional. Concerns have been raised over different aspects.
- According to the Telecom operators, the proposal, called CNAP, will be difficult to execute from a technical perspective given that a number of phones in the Indian market may not be able to support it.
- Meanwhile, Truecaller, which already offers a similar service albeit through a crowdsourcing model has said since several people purchase SIM cards using forged identity cards, TRAI’s proposal to use SIM registration data to display callers’ names might be fraught with inaccuracies since the identity of the actual user of a mobile number may not be the same as the subscriber.
- The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a trade body representing Airtel, Jio and Vodafone Idea has said that given that handset manufacturers and Operating System (OS) providers have control over the data obtained through the CNAP facility, this could result in the breach of subscriber data privacy as the manufacturers of mobile devices and OS providers would amass subscriber data for the entire country
- The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which represents digital industry firms, echoed a similar sentiment and pointed out that women in particular could be the most vulnerable.
- COAI said that a significant obstacle in implementing CNAP would be the fact that time-division multiplexing (TDM) based interconnection between telcos does not support CNAP.
- Further, there are no standards for CNAP over 2G/3G networks and hence, there is no ready solution available for it.
- Another major challenge is with regard to handsets as not all handsets are capable of supporting CNAP functionalities.