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India Takes Step to Block Commercial SMS Spamming

August 23, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

As India becomes a commercial powerhouse, several things are on the rise: median household income, a middle class workforce and the number of call centers. Something else is on the rise, as well, stemming from the former benefits: telemarketing. Unfortunately, alongside the rise in telemarketing is abuses of do-not-call lists and other telemarketing regulations.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently announced that it was forced to blacklist names and addresses of as many as 25,295 subscribers operating as telemarketers, and disconnect around 300,000 phone connections of telemarketers. The announcement was made by Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communications and IT, to the Indian Parliament, the website Medianama is reporting.

In particular, the authority has had to take steps to stop abusive SMS (text messaging) practices. SMS spam has become widespread in India, with much of it being sent via modem farms. TRAI’s steps are expected to help prevent dishonest players from sending bulk SMS.

“TRAI has mandated the Access Service Providers to put in place a solution, which will ensure that no commercial SMSs are sent having same or similar characters or strings or variants from any source or number,” said Deora. “The solution will ensure that no more than 200 SMSs with such similar ‘signature’ are sent in an hour.”

Deora did not indicate a timeframe for the disconnections.

“There is no information on what has been done about registered telemarketers, and how many of them have been banned so far,” writes Medianama blogger Nikhil Pahwa. “There are also issues of telemarketers registering multiple companies, so if one gets blocked, the other takes over.”

As many countries with widespread abusive telemarketing practices have found, shutting down these bad operators is a bit like playing “whack a mole.” One source is blocked, and another crops up to take its place. In the U.S., its comparable to the widespread problem of unsolicited and illegal automated outbound telephone calls (“robocalls”) to individuals on do-not-call lists or to subscribers’ cell phones, a practice that is illegal but nonetheless difficult to curb.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey