Govt launches Sanchar Saathi, AI-based portal to detect telecom frauds

Astr is the third reform, which uses AI to find out the total number of connections each person has taken

BS Web Team New Delhi
Ashwini Vaishnaw

Photo: ANI Twitter

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Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday launched Sanchar Saathi, an artificial intelligence-based portal that will enable telecom users to trace and block their lost or stolen phones, even if a new SIM is inserted. 
According to a report by Moneycontrol, the main feature of Sanchar Saathi is that the portal will help in protecting the personal data on stolen or lost phones and will allow them to be disconnected from any network provider. 

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "We are launching three consumer-facing reforms today. First is centralised identity equipment registered as the first leg. There are ways to identify any phone number uniquely. You can give your number on it after getting lost and then your lost mobile will be blocked after talking to law enforcement."
He further said that the second is to know one's mobile. Elaborating on the same, Vaishnaw said, "As a citizen, it is our right that no one else takes a phone connection registered under our names. Your phone number is connected to your KYC document. Using an AI algorithm, whatever phone connection is taken in your name across the country will be found out."

Astr is the third reform, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to find out the total number of connections each person has taken. Fraudsters often use someone else's identity or submit different photos in order to get multiple phone connections. 
Astr was developed in order to counter these fraudulent practices and it was implemented on 870 mobile phone connections. The report suggested that this led to the identification of 4 million fraudulent connections, of which 3.6 million connections have been disconnected.

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While talking about Astr, the union minister mentioned that one person had over 5,000 connections, whereas, another person took 6,900 connections. He further said that these anomalies were detected by Astr.
He further added the government is working with Meta-owned WhatsApp and other Over-the-top (OTT) platforms to identify and deregister those fraudulent connections. 

Commenting on the launch of Sanchar Saathi initiaitve, a WhatsApp spokesperson said, "We are grateful for the Minister's acknowledgment of WhatsApp's continuous commitment to user safety. We have been actively engaging with the Government to consistently ensure a safe and secure user experience, including weeding out bad actors from the platform. WhatsApp is a leader among end-to-end encrypted services in protecting user safety and we continue to provide several in-built safety tools like Block & Report, Two-step verification, among others, along with regularly driving user safety education and awareness."

First Published: May 16 2023 | 7:46 PM IST

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