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TRAI to shortly come up with views on regulating apps like WhatsApp, Facebook

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TRAI to shortly come up with views on regulating apps like WhatsApp, Facebook

Facebook, WhatsApp, X, Instagram, Signal, and other over-the-top services could be subject to regulations as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is eager to make suggestions about them. This development occurs at a time when the government excluded these services from regulation through a recently approved telecom statute.

According to a report by the Times of India, TRAI Chairman Anil Kumar Lohti stated that the telecom regulator will now go on with open house talks on creating a regulatory framework for these OTT services. “I am aware that we are now doing OTT communication consultations. Simply said, we have been working nonstop for the past few months to clear the backlog of references with us, and OTT communication is also on the line,” Lohti was quoted by TOI.

He went on to say, “The OTT consultation will be concluded, and we will submit our suggestions. This consultation was started on the proposal of a legislative committee. It is a different issue whose ministry or regulator handles it and which act it becomes a part of.

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The Telecommunications Bill, 2023 was approved by the Lok Sabha in December of last year by voice vote. In proposing the bill, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stated, “The bill [seeks] to amend and consolidate the law relating to development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks; assignment of spectrum; and for connected matters.”

The Indian Telegraph Act (1885) and the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1933) were superseded by the law. The measure was well received by industry associations including the Broadband India Forum (BIF) and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Three things, meanwhile, worried several lawmakers and tech activists: the addition of “online services,” such as OTT messaging ones; strict user authentication requirements; and worries about increased monitoring.

The Internet Society declared, “The Bill must contain provisions for distinguishing between traditional telecom services and Internet-based services,” in a statement following the bill’s passing.

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