No more unlimited messaging for you

Sep 27, 2011, 07:46 IST | Varun Singh

Members of the public are disgruntled with the regulation that comes into effect from today, passed by TRAI to curb the menace of pesky communications; Aaditya Thackeray to file PIL against it soon

Members of the public are disgruntled with the regulation that comes into effect from today, passed by TRAI to curb the menace of pesky communications; Aaditya Thackeray to file PIL against it soon
With problem of pesky communication via SMSes assuming menacing proportions by the day, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has rolled up its socks to curb the nuisance. Praiseworthy, you would say, and give it your hearty approval, until you heard the dubious method they have chosen as a means to the end. Instead of imposing limitations on the tele-marketing services responsible for flooding your inbox with a slew of disruptive and distracting messages, the telecommunication body has decided to impose a limit of 100 SMSes a day on all mobile phone users.

Message Pending: Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray claims that
it is not just commercial firms but also non-profit organisations which
use SMSes to communicate and the new order will inconvenience all. File pic

In response to this infringement, the president of Shiv Sena's youth wing, Aaditya Thackeray will be filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the High Court in two days, protesting the move.

This is perhaps the first time that a politician has given the customary dharnas and rallies a miss, and actually enlisted the support of the legal system to settle an issue.

Under the new regulation, which comes into effect from today, an individual mobile SIM holder will only be allowed to send 100 SMSes in a single day. The TRAI rationale for this order is that the limit will prevent consumers from being plagued by a ceaseless slew of advertisements from tele-marketers and other bogus entities that often flood inboxes with spam. According to Thackeray, however, this move is sure to have an adverse effect on the general public. Members of the populace seem to agree.

"The government wishes to curb the endless and disruptive flow of messages, but instead of addressing the source of the problem, they are imposing limitations on the public. This goes against the basic rights of an individual," said Thackeray.

The young leader is also planning to meet the leader of the Opposition at the centre, Sushma Swaraj, in Delhi, along with his party's MPs, to request that she raise the issue in Parlia-ment.

"There are many institutions which have to send hundreds of messages on a daily basis, none of which are commercial in nature. How will they function? If a political party or a non-profit organisation needs to send messages in bulk, they won't be able to do so. This rule will inconvenience hundreds of people from all walks of life," said Thackeray. 

Operators worry
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) also expressed concern over the order. Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI, said, "All service providers have made necessary arrangements to comply with the TRAI regulation, in order to curb the menace of telemarketing calls. However, many of our officers have expressed reservations about the 100 SMSes per day limitation. We have also asked TRAI to reconsider the move."

Mathews added, "While we are eager to eradicate the menace of pesky communication - which amounts to an invasion of the consumer's privacy - we are equally particular about safeguarding the consumer's rights. The consumer reserves the right to choose any method of communication, which is convenient for him. No artificial limitations should be imposed upon this basic liberty."

The Other Side
Ravi Rawat, advisor for quality services from TRAI, Delhi, said, "The move will come into force from September 27." Asked if the rule had faced resistance from the public, he refused to comment. 

We had recently undertaken a campaign, and had to send nearly 200 messages every day. If this rule had been applicable then, our campaign would have faced severe setbacks. Their intentions are commendable, but their method is wrong. Why can't they limit the number of messages that tele-marketing firms send out every day
-- Abhisekh Lamba, third year BMM student

My message count exceeds the 90 SMS mark almost every day. There are days it even crosses a tonne. How will I wish my friends and acquaintances during festivals?
-- Fahad Thakur, third year commerce student

This is a completely unnecessary move. No one should be allowed to curb our fundamental rights, by imposing such arbitrary limitations. Those who are plagued by the messages can always opt for the DND service, or move unwelcome numbers to the rejected lists. TRAI has just gone nuts. This move is sure to raise the hackles of the youth."
-- Venkateshwaran RV,
MiD DAY reader

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