On August 19 of this year, the Indian government imposed a limit on bulk SMS messaging in order to reduce the spread of misleading and potentially dangerous information across the country. The restriction on bulk SMSes allows citizens to send just five messages at once for the next 15 days since its declaration on August 19 of this year. Besides, the government also instructed telecom operators to block bulk MMS (more than 5) and also, to all MMS with attachment more than 25 KB for the next 15 days starting from August 19.
Pros Of The Decision
The decision was taken by the government due to exodus of citizens to return to their home across the country. The northeastern citizens started to exodus due to series of ethnic clashes in Assam and spreading outs of a sequence rumors and threats by text messages and social media sites, created a consternation amongst the northeastern citizens. There were some sorts of threat messages related to the violence and ethnic abuse.
The main reason of consternation amongst northeastern folks was a sense of insecurity, which was created by false messages. However, the central and state governments are trying to find out the main reason. But due to national security and integration, they finally decided to block bulks SMSes and MMSes across the country.
Definitely, the measure has helped the government to control rumors-mongers’ mischief and also spreading of panic messages. I think, this would only be one of the preventive measures, but it should not be taken at the cost of communications block. However, people can still keep in touch with other through phone calls.
Cons Of Bulk SMS Block
It’s true that the government has somehow succeeded to make the situation under control, but the attempt could direct to service providers. Yesterday, the entire India was celebrating EID festival and these operators already planned something for the festivals but the spread of panic messages subverted their whole plans. At present, we can’t ignore the importance of SMS/MMS services, a significant number of users across the country relying only on this mode of service for the communication. However, the situation could be improvised through filtering method or by the monitoring of the vulnerable messages.
At present, numbers of telecom operators are baffled with the government’s decision. TOI has reported that several telecom operators said that the ban on bulks messages are possible on the chunk of pre-paid customers’ messages, but due to technical constraints they could not implement such directives on post-paid SMS/MMS. service. However, implementing the directives on pre-paid customers was also not an easy job, but after hard work they succeeded to implement.
Is Banning The Service Only Solution?
It’s not the first time when the Indian government has threatened to any service providers just for prevailing pain SMSes. Before, in late of December last year, the government asked to social networking sites to screen the images before making them to live. However, the move of the government was unrealistic and really, it was very tough to monitor all these contents before making them to live. In the beginning of this year, despite of amid pressure by the government of India (to social networking sites to not host obscure and obnoxious contents on their websites), Google announced to not censor all these contents across the country. Indeed, everyone has its own limitations, that’s why, social networking sites and the world leading giant showed ‘hands up’.
If you book ticket and paying through your credit card, then what would like first after payment of the money? Definitely, you would like to have a confirmation message. Similarly, you want to do online shopping using mobile payment mode and you don’t get any messages after your deal is over. What will you do ? It’s well-known that the TRAI has already clarified differences between transactional and personal messages. But, I don’t know, why the government has decided to block transactional messages as well; anyway the senders can easily be identified in transactional messages. Undoubtedly, the department of telecom should have taken this into the consideration.
Any Alternative Route To Avoid Damages ?
In this case, the government needed to be aggressive about the false information (creating situation panic), which could endanger the lives of specific ethnics across the country, rather than to all messages. The government needs to set up a helpline forum and aware people to report the evidences and information which are spreading false rumors. The government should monitor to specific keywords of the messages and should block all those keywords for a particular time frame.
As the trend of mobile messaging is growing in India, it’s very tough for the telecom operators to control all these contents. However, the rumors are now under control, but, it’s the time to take any prudent decision to minimize such threats.
If we think on the other way, the block of bulk SMS could create an negative impact too. A lack of trustful messages could create a communication gap between government and citizens. The citizens of the country could be driven by the unreliable rumors. Really, the government should plan to work on specific keywords rather than to block all SMS/MMS. At presents, number of contents filtering tools are available and I think, telecom operators could leverage over them. The government should understand that SMS is a powerful tools for delivering instant communication to millions of people across the country.