Telecom Bill 2023 Excludes OTT, Confirms Ashwini Vaishnaw

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Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said over-the-top (OTT) players or applications won’t fall under the purview of the new telecom bill and will continue to be regulated by the Information Technology Act of 2000. 

This statement addresses concerns raised by certain app makers and activists that the broad definition of ‘telecommunications’ can be interpreted to cover any internet-based communication, as per a report by the Economic Times.

“OTT has been regulated by the IT Act of 2000 and continues to be regulated by the IT Act. There is no coverage of OTT in the new telecom bill passed by the Parliament,” Vaishnaw told ET.

The clarifications are issued in response to concerns raised by internet activists regarding the expansive definition of telecommunications in the Telecom Bill. This Bill, which was passed by both the Houses is currently awaiting presidential assent.

In a recent development, a coalition of 61 global digital companies and organisations, including Mozilla, Proton and Signal, has labelled the new Telecommunications Bill as a significant threat to democracy and the internet. Addressing Vaishnaw in a letter, the group has urged the Centre to promptly revoke the Telecom Bill.

Some lawyers had also argued that due to a general definition, it can’t be said with certainty that OTT players – especially those who provide communication services, such as WhatsApp (owned by Meta), Telegram and Signal – won’t be covered under the bill.

Not only this, the introduction of the proposed rules in Parliament raised alarms at Meta’s offices too. Shivnath Thukral, India policy head for the Mark Zuckerberg-led company, reportedly voiced internal concerns that the new Bill might encompass OTT communication apps. 

The clarification by the government will help settle the confusion around the issue, said a Meta spokesperson. 

“We welcome the clarification on the exclusion of OTTs from the telecom bill. We believe this will further boost the country’s digital ecosystem and the internet economy,” the spokesperson told ET.

Industry body Broadband India Forum (BIF), representing members like Amazon, Google, Meta, Netflix and OneWeb, emphasised that clear definitions of telecommunication services and the exclusion of OTTs from telecom regulations would accelerate internet/broadband penetration and significantly boost the growth of the digital economy.

In September, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) decided not to classify OTT platforms as telecommunications services in the Telecom Bill. This decision exempted them from specific telecom regulations. The DoT’s shift in stance followed TRAI’s earlier recommendation to regulate OTT communication apps and consider selective bans on certain OTT services in a consultation paper.

The new Bill seeks to replace three current laws – the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950 – to bring regulation up to speed with technology.

The 2023 Telecommunication Bill is a big win for foreign players like Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper, as it chooses to allocate satellite communication licenses administratively.  

The telecom sector in India is undergoing a remarkable transformation. As of July 2023, the country registered a subscriber base of 1.17 Bn, with a staggering 881.26 Mn internet subscribers, as per DoT.

The post Telecom Bill 2023 Excludes OTT, Confirms Ashwini Vaishnaw appeared first on Inc42 Media.

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We strive to uphold the highest ethical standards in all of our reporting and coverage. We StartupNews.fyi want to be transparent with our readers about any potential conflicts of interest that may arise in our work. It’s possible that some of the investors we feature may have connections to other businesses, including competitors or companies we write about. However, we want to assure our readers that this will not have any impact on the integrity or impartiality of our reporting. We are committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news and information to our audience, and we will continue to uphold our ethics and principles in all of our work. Thank you for your trust and support.

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Telecom Bill 2023 Excludes OTT, Confirms Ashwini Vaishnaw

Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said over-the-top (OTT) players or applications won’t fall under the purview of the new telecom bill and will continue to be regulated by the Information Technology Act of 2000. 

This statement addresses concerns raised by certain app makers and activists that the broad definition of ‘telecommunications’ can be interpreted to cover any internet-based communication, as per a report by the Economic Times.

“OTT has been regulated by the IT Act of 2000 and continues to be regulated by the IT Act. There is no coverage of OTT in the new telecom bill passed by the Parliament,” Vaishnaw told ET.

The clarifications are issued in response to concerns raised by internet activists regarding the expansive definition of telecommunications in the Telecom Bill. This Bill, which was passed by both the Houses is currently awaiting presidential assent.

In a recent development, a coalition of 61 global digital companies and organisations, including Mozilla, Proton and Signal, has labelled the new Telecommunications Bill as a significant threat to democracy and the internet. Addressing Vaishnaw in a letter, the group has urged the Centre to promptly revoke the Telecom Bill.

Some lawyers had also argued that due to a general definition, it can’t be said with certainty that OTT players – especially those who provide communication services, such as WhatsApp (owned by Meta), Telegram and Signal – won’t be covered under the bill.

Not only this, the introduction of the proposed rules in Parliament raised alarms at Meta’s offices too. Shivnath Thukral, India policy head for the Mark Zuckerberg-led company, reportedly voiced internal concerns that the new Bill might encompass OTT communication apps. 

The clarification by the government will help settle the confusion around the issue, said a Meta spokesperson. 

“We welcome the clarification on the exclusion of OTTs from the telecom bill. We believe this will further boost the country’s digital ecosystem and the internet economy,” the spokesperson told ET.

Industry body Broadband India Forum (BIF), representing members like Amazon, Google, Meta, Netflix and OneWeb, emphasised that clear definitions of telecommunication services and the exclusion of OTTs from telecom regulations would accelerate internet/broadband penetration and significantly boost the growth of the digital economy.

In September, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) decided not to classify OTT platforms as telecommunications services in the Telecom Bill. This decision exempted them from specific telecom regulations. The DoT’s shift in stance followed TRAI’s earlier recommendation to regulate OTT communication apps and consider selective bans on certain OTT services in a consultation paper.

The new Bill seeks to replace three current laws – the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950 – to bring regulation up to speed with technology.

The 2023 Telecommunication Bill is a big win for foreign players like Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper, as it chooses to allocate satellite communication licenses administratively.  

The telecom sector in India is undergoing a remarkable transformation. As of July 2023, the country registered a subscriber base of 1.17 Bn, with a staggering 881.26 Mn internet subscribers, as per DoT.

The post Telecom Bill 2023 Excludes OTT, Confirms Ashwini Vaishnaw appeared first on Inc42 Media.

Disclaimer

We strive to uphold the highest ethical standards in all of our reporting and coverage. We StartupNews.fyi want to be transparent with our readers about any potential conflicts of interest that may arise in our work. It’s possible that some of the investors we feature may have connections to other businesses, including competitors or companies we write about. However, we want to assure our readers that this will not have any impact on the integrity or impartiality of our reporting. We are committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news and information to our audience, and we will continue to uphold our ethics and principles in all of our work. Thank you for your trust and support.

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