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Unsolicited calls on mobile? Solution soon

March 06, 2006 19:06 IST

The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it will come out with a solution within two weeks to prevent unsolicited calls on mobile phones relating to tele-marketing, which amounts to invasion of privacy.

A statement to this effect was given by additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanian before a Bench comprising Justice Ruma Pal and Justice Dalveer Bhandari.

The Bench accepted the Centre's request for two weeks on the issue after recording the ASG's submission that steps have been taken to prevent the menace of unsolicited calls from tele-marketers.

The Bench was informed that authorities had discussion with telecom service providers and they were cooperating to evolve a solution.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Harsh Pathak seeking a law to ban unsolicited calls on mobile phones from various banks for loans or credit cards.

The court had sought response from the law and justice ministry, MTNL, cellular operators -- Hutch, Reliance Infocomm, Idea Cellular, Bharti -- and multi-national banks like Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, HDFC and ICICI.

The PIL had contended that these unsolicited calls for a loan, credit card or even a new connection amounted to "endemic invasion of privacy of the subscribers of mobile telephony at all times and hours" and seriously impaired the fundamental rights of citizens.

The PIL had said the mobile telephony service and tele-marketers were using the personal data of the subscribers for their business purposes as a product for sales promotion at the subscribers' personal and financial cost.

Citing a law in the United States to ban such unsolicited calls, the petitioner, through advocate Vivek Tankha, had requested the court to direct the government to enact an appropriate law, scheme or regulation to protect the mobile phone users "from this constant harassment and invasion of privacy" by such calls.

The PIL had said personal data given by a subscriber to a cellular service provider should be treated as confidential and there should be a law prohibiting service providers from transferring such personal data to other companies for commercial purposes.

"The government should formulate a scheme to safeguard privacy of the subscribers and to compensate for the loss incurred by them due to such unethical actions of the respondents," Pathak said in the petition.

He has also sought a direction for government to create a helpline and a forum to register complaints from mobile phone subscribers who have been harassed by unsolicited calls.

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