: The consumer affairs ministry has asked industry associations to advise retailers not to take the mobile number of customers without their “express consent” at the time of sale of any goods or services. It has said insisting on customers’ contact number is not just an unfair practice but also a “punishable offence” under the IT Act.
In a letter addressed to the Retailers Association of India and five other major industry entities – CII, FICCI, CAIT, Assocham and PHD Chamber of Commerce – Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh has said insisting on mobile number during the sale of a product as a prerequisite mandatory condition, even when a consumer opts not to provide the same, is a violation of their rights and constitutes unfair trade practice under the Act.
“By imposing a mandatory requirement to provide mobile numbers, consumers are often forced to share their personal information, against their will, after which consumers are often flooded with marketing and promotional messages from retailers, which they did not even opt for at the time of purchasing the product,” the secretary has written.
Quoting the Section 72-A of the Information Technology Act, the letter said disclosing personal information of a person including mobile number obtained at the time of a sale, without his or her consent or in breach of a lawful contract, to any other person, is a punishable offence.