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The Editorial Analysis- Over the Top

Draft Telecommunication Bill- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges
    • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

The Editorial Analysis- Over the Top -_3.1


Draft Telecommunication Bill in News

  • Recently Draft Telecommunication Bill 2022 was put in public domain for comments from various stakeholders.



Associated Concerns with Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill

  • Increased Government Control: The bill hints at a disturbing governmental pursuit, for more control over a range of digital applications and over-the-top streaming services that millions of Indians use daily.
  • License Raj: The Telecom Bill seeks to increase government control over digital applications and over-the-top streaming services by bringing them under the ambit of telecommunication services.
    • The operation of telecommunication services would require a licence- that is if the draft provisions do go through.
    • This means the likes of WhatsApp, Zoom, and Netflix will be considered telecommunication services.
    • And so would a whole range of digital services that are anyway regulated by the IT Act.
  • Overarching Definition of Telecom Services: The Draft bill broadens the definition of Telecom Services which includes everything-
    • From broadcasting services to electronic mail,
    • From voice mail to voice, video and data communication services,
    • From Internet and broadband services to over-the-top communication services, including those that the Government may notify separately.
  • Privacy Concerns: Government has the powers to prevent a message from being transmitted “on the occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety”.
    • Another clause in the draft Bill requires an entity that has been granted a licence to “unequivocally identify the person to whom it provides services”.
    • A similar clause under the IT rules brought in last year- requiring messaging apps to “enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource”- has been challenged in the Court.


Government’s Justification for New Draft Telecommunication Bill

  • Shredding the Colonial Legacy: the country requires a new legal framework, and not the existing one that is based on the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, to deal with the realities of the 21st century.



Draft Telecommunication Bill- Conclusion

  • While not underplaying the mounting challenges for ensuring security, the repeated attempts by the Government to be able to tap into all kinds of communication, without making sure the common man has a legal armour in the form of a data protection law, is extremely problematic.
  • The Government needs to upgrade its thinking on users and privacy. This draft needs to go back to the drawing board.


Draft Indian Telecom Bill, 2022

Draft Indian Telecom Bill, 2022

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