'Make sending of unsolicited communications a penal offence' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Make sending of unsolicited communications a penal offence'

delhi Updated: Aug 13, 2010 01:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The SMS (short messaging service) landed at 10 am and was crisp: it announced the availability of 'plush' flats ('2/3/3+bedroom-hall-kitchen) at an upcoming residential building ('brand new tower') in Noida at the rate of Rs 1,920 per square feet.

The expected booking amount was Rs 1.5 lakh, it said.

The SMS's recipient, software executive Anup Singh (32), however was not thrilled to get it. "I have not applied for such advertisements, in fact I have registered against receiving such UCC (Unsolicited Commercial Communications) and yet these flood my cell phone every day…they offer flats, air tickets, insurance policies, just about anything," Singh fumed.

Singh was one of the mobile phone users who participated in an Open House discussion held at India Habitat Center on Thursday to discuss ways to effectively curb UCCs whether in the form of voice calls, SMS, even MMS.

At the Open House, organized by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the stakeholders (individual mobile phone users, representatives of telemarketing agencies, and mobile service providers) reviewed the existing, "unsuccessful", Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulation, 2007, to plug its loopholes and make it "fool proof."

Today's verbal interaction, often spirited though at times spiteful, were meant to act as feedback to a "Consultation Paper" on the issue unveiled on May 11.

A four-member TRAI panel - led by Chairman JS Sarma - conducted the Open House curb the "menace of UCC."

The discussions brought out the "grim facts", as one mobile phone user put it: TRAI's National Do Not Call (NDNC) Registry, set up in October 2007, has till now registered 65.82 million mobile-phone users who do not want to get UCC.

Till March this year, however, over 3.4 lakh mobile-phone users had to still make complaints about getting UCC.

As the TRAI consultation paper pointed out, a large majority of mobile-phone users in India (a total of around 650 million) do not want to receive UCC and yet only around ten percent have yet registered with the NDNC Registry.

"We, the mobile-phone users who do not want UCC, are in a minority here though the House is full of professionals who are paid to be here, they will make bucks out of it…A telephone is a private medium, commercial rights cannot transcend over persona rights, what I receive on my phone is only my business," said participant Romesh Chopra. "There is an attempt by vested interests to confuse advertorials and advertisements with information…the passive consumer getting UCC is aggressed against too," he added, amid ringing applause.