Useful text services are great; over a Dial-a-Phone we like them so much we even wrote a round-up of our favourites. But when a service becomes so intrusive that it’s used by opportunists for stalking purposes, it’s probably time to withdraw it.
That’s what the Madhya Pradesh transport department in central India had to do when women flooded it with reports that they were being sexually harassed.
The facility allowed anyone to send a text in with a car registration number and receive the name, address and phone number of the driver of any vehicle. This already sounds staggeringly revealing and lacking in any sort of data protection; what happened was that most of the information being sought was about young female drivers by amorous suitors who were, let’s face it, too crap to introduce themselves the old fashioned way…
The original idea had been to support police and other investigations, such as those researching the purchase of a second hand vehicle; for that reason the information passed out included vehicle tax and so on. But the complaints that came in tipped off the transport department about the unorthodox use of the service. The information has now been restricted to remove the address and phone number, although determined stalkers can probably still do plenty with the owner’s name.
What do the locals think of this unexpectedly intrusive service? Taseen Khorakiwala’s reponse: “What can be done if a man is hell-bent on finding a woman’s whereabouts? He can get it by some other means, too.”
Taseen, love, I’m not sure if that means you think we should all go around with our personal information tattooed to our foreheads, but seriously, we don’t have to encourage stalking by text – enough people indulge in it already!