WhatsApp or Netflix, Should they be Treated the Same or Different in India

TRAI is wondering whether there is a need to address the OTT and broadcasting players separately or whether they can be treated in the same manner together. TRAI wants to roll out a consultation paper in January so that a regulatory mechanism can be built for the OTT apps. 

Highlights

  • India is currently looking at whether the OTT (over-the-top) applications should be brought under regulation or not.
  • Broadcasting apps come under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), while OTT communication apps come under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). 
  • The government wants to regulate OTT communication apps to ensure the safety of consumers.

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India is currently looking at whether the OTT (over-the-top) applications should be brought under regulation or not. The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India), a body that represents the private telecom companies in the country, has said that it wants only the OTT communication apps to be regulated. However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is wondering whether both OTT broadcasting apps, such as Netflix and OTT communication apps, such as WhatsApp be brought under regulation in a similar manner.

An ET Telecom report suggests that TRAI is wondering whether there is a need to address the OTT and broadcasting players separately or whether they can be treated in the same manner together. TRAI wants to roll out a consultation paper in January so that a regulatory mechanism can be built for the OTT apps.

The report mentioned that if it is decided that both broadcasting and OTT communication players should be addressed separately, then TRAI will first roll out a consultation paper for the broadcasting apps such as Netflix and Amazon in January 2023. After this, the OTT communication apps such as WhatsApp and Netflix would be addressed. But in case TRAI feels both can be addressed together, then a single consultation paper will be floated, and both will be discussed together.

It is also worth noting that broadcasting apps come under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), while OTT communication apps come under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The government wants to regulate OTT communication apps to ensure the safety of consumers. The draft telecom bill also focuses on the OTT communication apps and not the OTT broadcasting apps. A mandatory KYC (Know Your Customer) mechanism has been proposed for the OTT communication app in the draft telecom bill. This will keep things more transparent for the parties involved in communication via apps such as WhatsApp, Signal and more.

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