India blocks bulk SMS ahead of court ruling

The court is to pass an order on a very sensitive religious issue

The Indian government has banned bulk SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service), ahead of an expected court ruling that could stir up religious conflict in the country.

The country's Ministry of Communications & Information Technology said on Wednesday that it issued orders in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs to mobile telecom services providers in the country to ban bulk SMS and MMS messages in all service areas, with immediate effect for the next 72 hours.

Intelligence agencies in India typically block bulk SMS and MMS services in conflict situations to avoid the spreading of rumors and images through these services, a government source said on condition of confidentiality. Bulk SMSes are primarily used by telemarketers.

A bench of the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh state is scheduled to issue an order on a dispute between Hindus and Muslims over a religious site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

Some Hindus claim that a mosque was built in ancient times by Mughal rulers after they demolished a temple that was built to mark the birthplace of Lord Rama, whom the Hindus revere. The issue sparked off communal violence in 1992 after a Hindu mob attacked the mosque.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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