The Draft Telecom Bill 2022 was released by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) a few days back. Under the bill, the government has expanded the definition of telecommunications services to now also include OTT (over-the-top) communication services, satellite-based communication services, broadband, in-flight communication and more. The bill should be law within six to ten months, said Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday while interacting with the reporters.
The OTT communication apps such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal and more would come under the licensing norms of the telecom sector and would then need to follow KYC (know your customer) rules the way telecom operators need to. Vaishnaw said that the regulation of OTT apps is simply to protect the users at the end of the day.
The bill doesn't have any provision to decrypt the encrypted messages of social media platforms. However, according to an ET Telecom report, there is a clear mechanism of interception in the bill based on a Supreme Court judgement.
The difference between voice calls and data calls has reduced significantly over the years. To keep users protected, the government wants to regulate OTT communication apps. Vaishnaw said that it is important for a user to understand or know who is making the call. Now whether it be a WhatsApp call, a normal call or any other call, the customer needs to know who is calling.
The new bill will tackle cyber frauds in India, said Vaishnaw. Right now, the DoT is in the consultation process, and the public, as well as the stakeholders, can submit their views until October 20, 2022.
T V Ramachandran, president of Broadband India Forum, said that some of the provisions of the draft telecom bill 2022 seem prohibitive and may push the sector back to the pre-1997 era, resulting in a negative for the big ticket investments. The BIF president also noticed that through this bill, the government is limiting the power of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which is again bad.