India's ban on bulk SMS - A fallacious decision?

By Roshna Sankar, SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 11:55 Hrs
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India's ban on bulk SMS - A fallacious decision?
Bangalore: It was in 1975, the government announced the national emergency. To make it work, the then bureaucrats decided to ban the print media. Now, three decades down the line, the attitude of the bureaucrats does not seem to have changed. Today, when the country is facing the verdict on Ayodhya land dispute, they are stuck to the same solutions that their predecessors had considered years back. Rather than taking a technology guided decision, the government imposed a ban on bulk SMS in the country ahead of Ayodhya verdict to prevent provocation.

"The industry is losing crores of money per day due to this ban. However that is of less concern. What concerns me is that, will such kind of bans become the only solution when the country faces similar crisis? Now, technology is much developed and technologists can solve the issues in a most conducive way," says Beerud Seth, Co-Founder and CEO of SMS GulpShup, which has over 35 million users.

Today, India is a hotbed of technological advancements and home to many recognized techies. Instead of imposing the ban, the government could have directed to monitor the out going messages. Via implementing content filters, operators can block messages with the help of key words.

Of course, security is the primary thing. But, through banning only one medium, the government cannot stop the trouble makers from spreading provoking messages. Person to person SMS, email and social networking sites should have been brought under control too. "The government's decision to ban bulk SMS and MMS is a well intentioned but misguided effort. The internet medium cannot be controlled, even if the mighty government try to. So, it seems like the government is merely banning whatever it controls, while leaving huge, gaping loopholes," says Seth.

The decision has aroused a question in every mind - Will banning of a medium remain to be the default solution for any provocative issue that erupts in India?

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