Govt proposes to bring internet calling, messaging apps like WhatsApp, Zoom under telecom licence

The government has released the draft Indian Telecom Bill 2022. It proposes to expand the definition of ‘telecommunication’ to include over-the-top (OTT) services, satellite-based communication services, communication services internet-based, in vol. and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communications services and machine-to-machine communication services.

It means that WhatsApp, Zoom and Google Duo, owned by Meta, will move into the purview of the telecom license, under India’s draft 2022 telecom law.

The government, however, has proposed to exempt from interception press messages intended to be published in India by correspondents accredited to the central or state government.

“For the provision of telecommunications services and telecommunications networks, an entity must obtain a license,” according to the draft.

The deadline 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 where he also shared the link to the draft .

The government in the bill also proposed a provision to exempt telecom and internet service providers from fees and penalties. The ministry has also proposed a provision for the refund of fees in case a telecom or internet provider surrenders its licence.

According to the draft, the central government may “partly or wholly waive any fee, including entry fees, license fees, registration fees or any other fee or charge, interest, additional charge or penalty” for to any licensee or entity registered under the telecommunications regulations.

The bill proposes to exempt from interception “press messages intended for publication in India” by correspondents accredited to the central or state government.

However, exemption shall not be granted in case of public emergency or in the interest of public safety, sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or for avoid the incitement to a crime, according to the draft.

In such cases, no message or class of messages, to or from any person or class of persons, or relating to any particular subject matter, carried for transmission or transmitted or received by any telecommunications service or network of telecommunications, or will it be intercepted, detained or disclosed? to the authorized official, according to the draft law.

With PTI tickets

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