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Fed up, India to set up "do not call" register

A woman talks on her cell phone as she waits outside the airport in New Delhi, February 1, 2006. The government will set up a "do not call" register by September this year to curb frequent, unsolicited calls from companies offering home loans, credit cards and mobile phone services, the government said on Friday. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government will set up a “do not call” register by September this year to curb frequent, unsolicited calls from companies offering home loans, credit cards and mobile phone services, the government said on Friday.

The government’s commitment to the Supreme Court came two years after the highest judicial body asked it to take steps to protect mobile phone users from being flooded with sales calls from firms and telemarketers offering a range of services.

The court was acting on a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer who complained that such calls were “inconvenient” and violated an individual’s right to privacy.

“Irrespective of the subscriber’s location and time, professional and personal engagements, cell phone and telemarketing companies keep calling,” his petition said.

Many Indians complain of being harassed by telemarketers who offer them house and car loans, credit cards or a new mobile phone service.

“Those who register in the do-not-call registry will not receive unsolicited calls,” government counsel P.P. Malhotra told the court, adding the register would start operating on Sept. 5.

India’s booming economy over the past few years has led to a surge in mobile phone users, who make an attractive market for banks, insurance firms and mobile service providers.

“These calls can make your day hell,” said Namit Shah, a Kolkata-based businessman. “It’s about time the government stops this.”

Private telecoms companies said they were ready to comply with the government’s plan and would set up toll-free numbers for people to get their names and numbers on the register.

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