Before there was telemarketing there were crank calls

Recently perusing through the daily papers, one was greeted with a news item beyond crime and politics, one which came as a pleasant outcome of the judicial process. The news was of the notification of the “Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007”. Quite self explanatory. I will skip the usual hoo-haa about its need and its features any interested reader can just google and find that information. What interests me is the consultation paper which was issued before the regulation was drafted. The consultation paper quotes a paragraph from Dr. Harsh Pathak’s petition under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which alleged inter alia that telemarketing contravened The Right to Privacy read under Article 21.

The paragraph contains two provisions of the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951. The rules are formed under the Indian Telegraph Act. The provisions are Rule 427 which reads as Illegal or improper use of telephone, and states that, “No telephone shall be used to disturb or irritate any persons or for the transmission of any message or communication which is of an indecent or obscene nature or is calculated to annoy any person…”. There is a similar language used in Rule 513. Now its quite apparent that these provisions were made with a view to prohibit crank calls.

When discussing these provisions with a colleague it was inquired, whether they could apply against spam mails. Well prima facie it appears they can. Since ISP’s provided a license under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act and there license agreement states that it shall be governed by the provisions of the Indian Telegraph act. Thus through a crude engineering of these antiquated provisions ISP’s in India are obliged to block and prevent spam mail originating from their networks. Now that the telemarketing regulations have been enforced, I invite “public spirited citizens” to agitate judicial forums for accelerating development of spam legislation.

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