India has an SMS spam problem. Mint and Times of India have recently run front-page stories. And then, our Finance Minister got a ‘pesky’ telemarketing call in the midst of an important meeting, which triggered a missive to the Communications minister, which in turn cascaded to the TRAI chairman.
The solution being proposed is the creation of a “Do Call” registry. The logic is that the National Do Not Call (DNC) registry has not done its job. So, let’s try the opposite. Let’s put the whole country on a Do Not Call registry, and only those who specifically request will then be put on the Do Call registry. Take a guess as to what that number is going to be.
Let’s understand the situation. India has a DNC list – there are 50+ million numbers on that list. The people upset happen to be in this list. (Theoretically, the other 350+ million Indians not on the list are fair game for the telemarketers. It is actually quite easy to add oneself on the list – a simple SMS will do the job. But this fact is one of India’s best kept secrets.)
Now, people like the FM are obviously on the DNC list. And they are still called. That is the problem to be fixed. By adding another 350 million Indians to the DNC list, we are not solving the problem – instead we are making it bigger.
So, if a “Do Call” registry is not the solution, then what needs to be done to solve the problem?