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Hyderabad: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has imposed a penalty on Bharti Airtel LtdBharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL)Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, among others, as they did not respond appropriately to a show-cause notice issued due to failure in block phishing activities on their networks.

The telecom regulatory authority has also fined Vodafone Idea Ltd, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Tata Teleservices in a case pertaining to One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of fintech company Paytm.

In June, One97 had moved the Delhi High Court against telcos, Trai and the Centre for not blocking those who were defrauding its customers by phishing activities over mobile networks.

Fraudulent messages

BSNL has been slapped with the highest fine of Rs 30 crore, according to an affidavit filed by the Trai at the Delhi High Court. Mint has reviewed a copy of the affidavit. Almost 60-70% of the fraudulent messages and phishing attempts to customers have been on the BSNL network, according to industry officials.

Trai said in the affidavit filed, “As per regulation 27 of Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, the Authority (Trai) may impose financial disincentives on any access provider if it fails to curb Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) through its network.”

However, Trai cannot impose penalty on telecom operators without giving them sufficient time to block phishing activities on their networks. While BSNL was issued a show-cause notice twice to comply with the UCC guidelines, other telcos were asked on 1 October. Failure to curb UCC by both BSNL and other telcos attracted the penalty.

Fintech

The intervention appeal, which was placed before the Delhi High Court in the last hearing on 23 September, said fintechs such as PhonePe and MobiKwik were also hurt by phishing activities taking place over various mobile networks.

In its first petition in June, Paytm filed a defamation suit of Rs 100 crore on telecom operators–Airtel, Reliance Jio, BSNL, MTNL, and Vodafone Idea–for not blocking phishing activities over their networks, leading to financial loss for the fintech company.

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