Thursday, January 13, 2011

India Needs Consumer Friendly Telecom Policy

One of the major problems with the present telecom policy of India is that it is anti consumer in nature. For instance, there are no regulations of telemarketing in India. Telemarketing companies are targeting Indian telecom consumer with all sorts of calls and schemes and department of telecommunications (DoT) India and telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) are doing nothing in this regard.

Clearly telemarketing lobby is playing with the telecom policies of India otherwise there is no reason why consumers should not be given the amount of fines and penalties imposed upon telemarketing companies. Instead, these fines are collected by the telecom companies that obviously are interested in promoting more telemarketing products and services.

Further, there is no effective mechanism through which telecom disputes of consumers can be effectively handled in India. Even the consumer protection law of India needs a fine tune keeping in mind the telecom disputes. A recent consumer complaint filed against Vodafone India may begin a new consumer dispute resolution regime in India.

Another area of concern is that there is no privacy law and data protection laws in India. Essential and private details of telecom consumers are openly available for sale in the markets. Telemarketing companies purchase this information and use the same without any fear of punishment as there are no deterrent rules or regulations in this regard.

If this is not enough, we have the unconstitutional Aadhar project of India in pipeline. Under the project biometric details of Indian residents would be collected without any legal framework. Combine it with the growing e-surveillance in India, lack of data protection and privacy laws and unregulated telecom sector and you would get the telecom policy of India.

It is high time India must formulate effective and proper telecom policy of India. Of course, DoT India and TRAI need to perform the functions entrusted to them instead of supporting telemarketing and rouge telecom companies in order to achieve this task. Is somebody listening?