Starting today, for the next 15 days, the Indian government has imposed a nationwide ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes. The decision has been made in order to curtail text messages and MMSes containing rumours or misleading information about the Assam violence. It has been found that these messages contain fabricated videos, and supposed threats to northeasterners living in several cities across the country. This has caused much panic among those of northeastern origin.
During the period that the ban is effective, it will not be possible to send more than five SMSes or more than 25KB of data at a time from a mobile phone number.
No bulk SMSes, MMSes for the next 15 days (Image credit: Getty Images)
As per reports, the Home Ministry has asked the Department of Telecommunications to implement the order through telecom operators in the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that rumours spread by miscreants in this way have caused those of northeastern origin to flee their homes across several places in the country.
The concept of banning bulk messages isn't new. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had allowed customers who did not wish to receive unsolicited commercial calls and SMSes to register their preferences under the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR). Little did the regulatory body know that it would get a miffed response from consumers, who were understandably annoyed by an endless stream of unwanted calls and texts for promotional offers, schemes, etc.
In April last year, the Mumbai Police banned bulk SMSes, especially of the promotional kind, from March 31 to April 2. The order referring to a cricket match read, “…there is a likelihood of creation of discontent in the minds of the general public prior to the final match and after the final match is over, which may create a law and order problem”. Bulk SMS has been identified as one of the possible sources of law and order problems, and has been banned in such situations.