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TRAI to examine auto-download of video ads

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | October 18, 2016
The regulatory authority wants to look into concerns on unsolicited ads that eat into data consumption.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will hold a session with industry experts this month to examine concerns over unsolicited online video ads that get downloaded automatically without the consumer's knowledge, and push up their data costs inadvertently.

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The TRAI seminar titled 'Seminar on 'Unsolicited Downloads and Background Exchanges when using the Internet', will be organised in Hyderabad on October 24. According to a PTI report, officials connected to this say that the regulator wants to look at the issue in-depth, and decide whether such downloads need to be regulated.

Another official has been quoted as saying that, "These unsolicited ads on some sites and well as social media platforms which download automatically without the consumers' knowledge, lead to data consumption. The question is should there be rules and regulations around them, given the non-transparent way in which data usage is happening."

Officials have also pointed out that the issue is not about content regulation as TRAI is not checking the content of these online ads, adding that,"At about 20-30 paise per MB, data is expensive. So the issue needs to be examined."

In the first phase, TRAI's seminar will have industry experts, telecom service providers and internet as well as social media companies in panel discussions on the issue. "We want to understand how much data is being consumed by these ads, what can users do to stop them, do the sites allow users the option to stop the ads, and is there an upper limit which ensures that data usage should not go beyond a certain level," explains an official.

This is said to be an initial step to help identify issues that address questions like -'Can these videos have maximum data consumption or time limit, beyond which the videos should stop unless explicitly chosen by the consumer, or are these so hidden in the settings that the general public is not aware of the options available'. The Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad is the academic partner for the upcoming seminar.

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