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Telemarketers' menace: Supreme Court takes note

Had to take that call in the loo, with the silly women on the cell offering you personal loans, while all you wanted was to forget your constipation? The banks and mobile phone services may be about to get bitten quite hard on their butts. 

Bugged by the unwelcome telemarketer selling his personal loans and credit cards when you are in the loo? Hope is here! The Supreme Court of India has taken note of telemarketers out to sell their unwanted goodies to us. On a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Harsh Pathak, the Supreme Court of India on February 7, 20004 issued notices to the central government, all cellular operators and MNC banks seeking a law to ban such unsolicited calls.

A Supreme Court of India bench including Santosh Hegde and SB sinha issued notices to 11 respondents on the PIL. Harsh Pathak has termed such unwanted calls on the cellphone as an invasion of privacy and violation of right to live a peaceful life.

Citing an American law to ban such unwelcome calls, the PIL asked the court to direct the government to enact appropriate law, scheme or regulation to protect the mobile phone users "from this constant harassment and invasion of privacy".

Those who have been served the notices are: the Union government of India, Law and Justice Ministry, MTNL, private cellular operators including Hutch, Reliance, Idea, Bharti, and banks Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, HDFC and ICICI Bank.

These unwelcome calls for loans, card or even a new connection amounted to "enemic invasion of privacy of the subscribers of mobile telephony at all times and hours" and seriously impaired the fundamental rights of citizens."

He said the Indian government should set up a helpline and a forum to register complaints from Indian cellphone subscribers harassed by such calls.
The personal data given by a subscriber to a cell operator should be treated as confidential and there should be a law prohibiting them from transferring such data to other companies for commercial purposes, the PIL contended.

"The government should formulate a scheme to safeguard the privacy of subscribers and to compensate for the loss incurred by them due to such unethical actions of the respondent companies," the PIL said. The PIL also requested the court to issue a direction to the government to consider making a "do-not-call" registry, which would
contain the numbers of those subscribers who do not want any call from telemarketing companies, on the lines of what had been created by the Federal Communications Commission in US.


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