The Ministry of Home Affairs has banned bulk SMSes and multimedia messages for 15 days starting today. This follows rumours causing the exodus of the North-East people from Bangalore and other cities.

More than five SMSes or multimedia messages from one number cannot be sent in one go. All multimedia messages with attachments more than 25 Kb have also been banned. The ban applies throughout the country.

This is not the first time the Government has imposed such a ban. In 2010, the Centre stopped all bulk SMSes and MMSes across India for 72 hours when the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits verdict was due.

Industry players termed the move to ban messaging as arbitrary.

“This is uncalled for and it’s a case of shooting the messenger,” said Subho Ray, President, Internet & Mobile Association of India.

“Even if the Government had to impose the ban for security reasons why could it not invoke the provisions of the law rather than pass an executive order? Such a ban will serve no purpose,” he said.

The biggest impact of the ban would be on messaging firms who use the platform for telemarketing as they will not be able to do any business for the next 15 days.

“Our business will be impacted but at the same time those who want to spread rumours can do so by other means such as Twitter and social media networks,” said a Pune-based telemarketing firm.

IMAI has written to Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for IT, to review the ban order. “This is a knee-jerk reaction and most unfortunate one that reflects the 18th century mindset of the Government. Where will this stop? Why not ban TV and newspapers too?” Ray said.

thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 17, 2012)
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