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Govt bans bulk SMSes & MMSes for 15 days; Does it even matter with IM apps around?

In the wake of a reportedly mass exodus of North-Eastern people from various Indian cities, the Ministry of Home Affairs has banned bulk SMSes and MMSes for 15 days starting on Friday, to quash unsavoury rumours that created panic across the country.

Because of the ban, users will not be able to send more than five SMSes or MMSes at a time. However, we were able to send bulk messages last time we tried on Friday afternoon and we are still receiving SMS-based marketing spam (probably the ban will come into effect from midnight).

This is not the first time such a ban has been imposed. In 2010, the Indian government banned bulk SMSes and MMSes when the Ayodhya verdict was due. At that time, the government had imposed a ban for 72 hours, but later extended it for a longer period of time.

The government claims that anti-social elements are spreading large-scale rumours and consequently, people from the North-East are fleeing from Bangalore and other parts of the country. However, the authorities expect that the ban will put an end to it.

Although we wonder how effective the ban will be, considering the fact that people are still able to connect via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Troublemakers, hell-bent on doing what they intend to do, would still find more ways than one to inflict harm. But the question is: What are the options the government has to trace and punish the wrong-doers?

The good news for people like you and me is that with so many instant messaging (IM) apps around, users still have another option for sending out messages to large groups at a time. Of course, SMS is more convenient and undoubtedly omnipresent in nature as it can reach even a basic handset unlike most apps, which require a smartphone or mobile Internet connectivity.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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