Vodafone becomes first operator to crack down under India’s new anti-spam laws

Vodafone has become the first operator to crack the whip on telemarketers under India’s tough new anti-spamming laws.

According to India’s telecom regulator, the TRAI, the Indian operation of the UK-based service provider became the first to deposit fine money collected to violators of the code that became effective this month.

“Vodafone penalized the first batch of telemarketers by deducting penalty amount from their security deposits on 12.10.2011. Vodafone Ltd., the service provider has deposited Rs. 50000 with TRAI in compliance to the regulations,” TRAI said in a statement.

The laws, which extends the prohibition on marketing calls to text messages as well, were implemented on September 27. They are the second effort by the regulator to save India’s tens of millions of telecom users from an incessant barrage of unsolicited communications, especially SMS, sent by real estate companies, super market chains etc..

The new laws were framed after the first ‘do-not-disturb’ system was found inadequate. While the first round of legislation, several years ago, effectively curbed most telemarketing calls, they still left open the possibility for spam text messaging as well as some types of calls.

Due to the commoditization of telecom services in India, several operators had started offering dirt cheap rates for mass-messaging services to telemarketers. As a result, an average consumer in India could look forward to getting a dozen or more spam text messages a day, especially in the big cities.

The new rules are expected to hit the revenues of some operators, as well as those of many SMS marketing and aggregation service providers.

The new laws require service providers to levy fines on behalf of the regulator as well as disconnect services in cases of repeat offences.

“TRAI is monitoring and enforcing the regulations for protection of customers from Unsolicited Commercial calls and SMSs,” the regulator reminded.