Indian Telecommunications Bill passed in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: Indian Telecommunications Bill 2023, introduced by Union minister of communications Ashwini Vaishnaw, was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The bill, however, seeks to supersede the existing regulatory framework for the telecommunication sector, based on the Indian Telegraph Act, of 1885, the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1933), and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act (1950).

After the Lok Sabha, the bill will go to Rajya Sabha for discussion and passing it there as well. As per the draft, the new bill, which is to be enacted into law in the country, will bring sweeping regulatory changes, such as an authorisation regime, clarity on the assignment of satellite spectrum and so on.

In Telecommunications Bill 2023, for instance, the government has paved the way for the allocation of satellite spectrum, as opposed to the auction. Secondly, through the bill, the central government will be empowered to establish rules for the protection and assurance of cyber security in telecommunication networks and services.

In the previous version of the bill, the ambit of the regulation also included over the top services such as WhatsApp or a Signal. However, in the bill that was tabled in the Parliament on October 18, over-the-top or OTT has not been included. The new version of the bill, however, includes a provision mandating biometric identification by telecom companies before issuing SIM cards to consumers.

The bill, like the ones that it is going to supersede, also gives wide-ranging surveillance powers to the government. The bill also addresses the concept of ‘trusted sources’ in the context of national security and protection. The new Telecom Bill 2023 also provides power to the government to intercept “any message or class of messages to or from any person or class of persons”, and “disclose in intelligible format” to officers concerned in the cases of public emergency, in the interest of public safety and so on.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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