WOULD YOU LIKE your mobile number listed in a
Late August, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of
India (TRAI) released a consultation paper asking cel-
lular service providers to publish directories of their
users' mobile numbers, just like landline directories
that MTNL and BSNL publish.
Publishing a directory is a mandatory clause of an
Indian cellular service provider's license agreement,
but service providers have consistently avoided doing
so, citing customer disinterest and privacy issues.
Insiders say the real reason the companies do not
want to publish a mobile directory is to avoid
stretching their already-tight budgets on publishing
Whatever the reason, a publicly available cellular
directory in India is invitation to troubleand not
just because telemarketers would take advantage of
the millions of mobile numbers listed. The primary
cause of individual complaints would be the lack of a
system to address grievances.
It is no secret that credit card companies, insur-
ance companies, and now even pubs and political par-
ties routinely use mobile messaging to garner new
consumers, or votes. The trouble is, who will address
an individual's complaint if he or she receives spam
SMSes, or persistent, unsolicited calls, or, horror of
The TRAI is, after all, a regulatory bodyit does
not have the teeth to punish offenders.
The US has a national Do Not Call Registry, which is
a safeguard against telemarketers misusing publicly
available telephone numbers. If a telemarketer calls
up a number on the register, he is liable to pay a fine
of $11,000 per individual. The fine is imposed swiftly,
and the individual feels vindicated.
WYTY.com, also based in the US, has set up an opt-
in online mobile directory. You can register on the
Web site, and list your number. The biggest safeguard
here is that you need to specify a name to retrieve a
number. This means that only those who know your
nameyour friends, relatives and business acquain-
tanceswill be able to access