Madhya Pradesh transport body stops SMS following complaints from women drivers

November 24th, 2007 - 3:00 pm ICT by admin  

Bhopal, Nov.24 (ANI): Officials in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal have stopped a text messaging service giving out drivers’ contact details after men used it to pester women.
The facility that was launched a year ago was withdrawn after women complained to the Madhya Pradesh Transport Department that they were being harassed by men.
Under the scheme, anyone could send a text to access a vehicle owner’s name, address and phone number. Officials say most of the information being sought pertained to young women.
Officials say the original idea was to provide “citizen-centric services” and assist police and investigating agencies.
But soon the department found that the service had become particularly popular with men seeking to contact young women.
The BBC quoted Deputy State Transport Commissioner Upendra Jain as saying that his department received several “informal complaints” through police sources and concerned citizens that the facility was being used for “other purposes”.
Therefore, it was decided to limit the information provided through text messages, he said.
“Now our system does not send back the address and phone number of the owner,” he said.
Although officials say information provided through cell phone text messages has been shortened mainly because “the number of messages sent to the transport department has increased several fold”, they admit that the harassment complaints “were a big reason too”.
The service was introduced last year as part of a shift towards e-governance and aimed at introducing transparency. The information was also meant to help those purchasing second-hand vehicles by providing details of the original date of purchase, fitness certificate, taxes and fees paid.
Some people say the transport department is still providing too much information in the public domain as their website still lists address details of owners. (ANI)

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