Draft Telecom Bill: Negative influence on digital ecosystem, say tech corporations3 min read
The authorities ought to maintain web communication providers comparable to WhatsApp, Google Meet and Signal, and different internet-based providers outdoors the purview of the draft telecom Bill, business groupings representing high tech corporations together with Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft have mentioned, arguing that such a prescription can be towards world requirements.
The “overbroad” definition of telecommunication providers within the proposed telecom Bill might “have a negative impact on India’s digital ecosystem,” BSA -The Software Alliance, mentioned in its submission to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), one other business group, has instructed the DoT that phrases comparable to “internet-based communication services” and “interpersonal communication services” which might be a part of telecom providers beneath the proposed Bill haven’t been outlined clearly, which “can lead to regulatory overlap and ambiguity”. The Indian Express has reviewed each BSA and ITI’s feedback to the draft Bill.
In September, the DoT had launched the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, during which it proposed regulating communication providers together with voice, video, and information supplied by over-the-top (OTT) platforms comparable to Whatsapp as telecom providers, requiring them to acquire a licence from the federal government identical to different telecom operators.
In the draft Bill, the federal government has included internet-based and OTT communication providers comparable to WhatsApp calls, Facetime, Google Meet and so on. beneath telecom providers, addressing a long-standing demand by telecom operators which have on a number of events known as for a degree taking part in discipline. At current, whereas telecom corporations want a licence to supply providers, OTT platforms don’t.
However, BSA mentioned that the federal government’s method is an “outlier” in comparison with different jurisdictions the place licensing necessities for internet-based providers is “uncommon”. “Governments of other countries are typically unwilling to extend the scope of what constitutes a telecom service to cover IT and digital services and products,” it mentioned, including that in geographies just like the European Union, Australia, South Korea and the United Kingdom, regulators haven’t imposed stringent telecom and licensing necessities on digital providers.
ITI mentioned that the International Telecommunication Union has not prescribed any regulatory mechanism for OTT communication providers. It added that India has made sure commitments on the World Trade Organization (WTO) for each nationwide remedy and market entry for sure telecommunications providers, which such new licensing procedures might “nullify”.
“The overbroad definition of telecommunication services will extend licensing and authorization requirements over the wide range of IT and digital services. In case of non-compliance, the Bill also sets a significant and disproportionate penalty (includes both imprisonment and hefty fines) on these service providers,” BSA mentioned. “This will pose significant risk for IT and Digital businesses in India and will likely throttle Internet-based innovation as well as the nascent Indian start-up ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, the DoT on Thursday night time but once more prolonged the deadline to submit feedback to the draft telecom Bill, with the brand new deadline being November 20.