Statesman News Service, 27 November 2006
BHUBANESWAR, Nov. 26: The need of the hour is for a concerted effort to cub the digital assault on consumer care and make law enforcement, security agencies as well as telecom service providers more accountable on issues relating to infringement on individual’s privacy and human rights, observed Supreme Court Justice Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat.
Addressing the inaugural session of a seminar on Dispute Settlement and Protection of Consumer Rights in the Telecom and Broadcasting Sectors, organised by Telecom Disputes Settlement& Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Mr Justice Pasayat dwelt on the unsolicited communications and telemarketing calls which infringe on an individuals’ privacy.
The privacy and human rights issues surrounding the use of technology are also being taken for granted, he said referring to the invasion of privacy and violation of an individuals right to live a peaceful life.
Even a year after the Supreme Court asked government to crack down on these unsolicited telemarketing calls, such calls continue to spring up on phone users. The guidelines issued by the RBI to banks on this issue have also neither been widely publicised nor any time frame appears to have been specified for their implementation, he said in his written address.
There is an urgent need to frame laws to ban all types of unsolicited communications. Though Trai has directed cellular service providers to have special dialing codes, it is on international roaming. The facility to bar spam needs to be extended to all subscribers. He referred to laws and regulations in the USA, Canada and UK.Law makers, regulator and service providers must make a sustained concerted effort to curb the digital assault, he said. He felt that the seminar of TDSAT should discuss on the need for a convergent approach towards consumer rights.
Mr Justice Pasayat also touched upon the complexity in legislation pertaining to the subject of consumer rights which involves multiple agencies for implementation. This should be avoided and a simpler way of redressal should be adopted, he noted.
Interspersing his speech with light hearted comments on how his grand children expose his ignorance over use of gadgets or how a friend was waiting to get one of those free offers when the provider will give money for a customer to buy a handset etc, Justice Pasayat went on to talk about the digital divide.
Chairperson of TDSAT Justice Arun Kumar said that the technological revolution in this sector has put us in a situation where we are doing multiple jobs at the same time devoting only partial attention to each job.
The regulatory and dispute resolution framework needs to move in step with the very rapidly evolving technological trends and ever changing nature of conflicts said Justice Arun Kumar.
A host of legal luminaries, including Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly, spoke about the mind boggling pace in technological development and the challenges to cope up with it. The consumer is the purpose of global economy, said Justice Ganguly before quoting Mahatma Gandhiji’s words on customer is not an interruption he is the very purpose.Mr K Sridhara, member (technology) DoT, gave an overview of the growth in the entire sector and the challenges. He said that every month, 60 lakh customers were being enrolled and plethora of services as well as reduced tariffs were phenomenal.