The government has released the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022. It proposes that the definition of ‘telecommunication’ be expanded to include over-the-top (OTT) services, satellite-based communication services, internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communications services and machine-to-machine communication services.
It means that Meta-owned WhatsApp, Zoom and Google Duo will be brought under the ambit of telecom licence, according to the draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022.
The government has, however, proposed to give exemption to press messages that are intended to be published in India of correspondents accredited to the Central or state governments from being intercepted.
“For provision of Telecommunication Services and Telecommunication Networks, an entity shall have to obtain a license,” according to the draft.
The last date for public comment on the draft is October 20.
“Seeking your views on the draft Indian Telecom Bill 2022,” Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in a post on a social media platform in which he also shared the link of the draft bill.
The government in the bill also proposed a provision to waive fees and penalty of telecom and internet service providers. The ministry has also proposed a provision for the refund of fees in case a telecom or internet provider surrenders his license.
According to the draft, the central government may, “waive in part or full any fee, including entry fees, license fees, registrations fees or any other fees or charges, interest, additional charges or penalty” for any licence holder or registered entity under the telecom rules.
The bill proposes to exempt “press messages that are intended to be published in India” of correspondents accredited to the central or state government from interception.
However, the exemption will not be granted in case of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety, sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or to prevent incitement to an offence, according to the draft.
In such cases, any message or class of messages, to or from any person or class of persons, or relating to any particular subject, brought for transmission by, or transmitted or received by any telecommunication services or telecommunication network, shall not be transmitted, or shall be intercepted or detained or disclosed? to the authorized officer, according to the draft bill.
With PTI Inputs