The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) wants social media applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype to be brought under a licensing regime. As per an ET Telecom report, the government has approached the Home Ministry for its views on the same.
According to a senior government official aware of the matter, these applications require some sort of licensing for ensuring that all the data of the Indians is stored within the country. Further, the aim of the regulations would be to force these companies to provide information to law enforcement agencies in the same manner Indian telecom operators do.
TRAI Doesn’t Believe in Regulation of OTT Communication Apps
While the DoT is pushing for the regulation of social media applications, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) believes that it is best not to regulate over-the-top (OTT) communication apps.
The government official said that these apps need to be brought under the licensing regime because it is in the interests of national security. Basically, the government wants the social media apps to be regulated in the same manner Indian operators are regulated. However, this might create a ruckus in the country, and the same was mentioned by Twitter as well.
Twitter responded to the enforcement of the government’s IT Act as taking away the right of free speech from the citizens. The micro-blogging platform said that it would restrict people from sharing their thoughts and opinions freely.
However, the government isn’t very patient this time around. The centre has asked Twitter to comply with the rules and not beat around the bush. As per the government, these new rules would only be there to keep the people protected, and it won’t take away their right to free speech.
With the regulations in place, the government wants the data to be stored within India so that it can be accessed whenever required. As of now, the concerned companies keep the data outside the borders of the country, so whenever the data is requested from them, they excuse by saying that they cannot provide any information to the government because the data is not locally stored.
The telecom operators have also argued that if the service provided by these apps are the same, why are they not regulated?