Experts flag regulatory overlap as government redraws telecom, IT laws
ETtechThe union government must clearly define the jurisdiction of a slew of fresh laws that are being drawn up to oversee India’s vibrant telecom and information technology sectors in order to avoid regulatory discord in future, multiple cyber policy experts told ET. They pointed to a potential“ overlap” between certain provisions in the newly announced draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 and the existing IT Act as well as the revamped Information Technology Act (The Digital India Act) and the upcoming Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill as a matter of “concern.”
The new telecom policy –released on Wednesday–has included over-the-top (OTT) communication services such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal under its ambit, even as the proposed IT regulations are also expected to include provisions that will govern these companies, they noted.
As the government is drawing up both telecom and IT laws afresh, it needs to decide which of the regulators– whether it is the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) or the proposed Data Protection Authority (DPA) under the PDP Bill— will have oversight of these companies, said the people cited above.
Currently, apps like WhatsApp are regulated under the IT Act, while provisions under the IT Rules, notified last year, have also increased oversight of significant social media firms such as WhatsApp including provisions pertaining to traceability of messages.
Meanwhile, the newly released draft telecom policy has also expanded the definition of “telecommunication services” to include OTT communication services, which means these companies will also be regulated under the new law. The Clause 24 (2) (a) of the draft telecom Bill also states that information transmitted and received over telecommunication services could be intercepted by an authorised official of the government “in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or preventing incitement to an offence”.
Some industry experts noted that this provision could open up the debate over breaking of encryption. Meta-owned WhatsApp, which claims to be end-to-end encrypted, has previously taken the government to court for mandating it to identify the first originator of messages.
WhatsApp did not reply to ET’s queries on the matter.
“OTT services are already being forced to comply with IT laws that don’t factor in modern privacy technology and intent, especially end-to-end encryption. Extending telecom laws to also paint these by the same brush as phone calls for interception will make for one more unnecessary headache that doesn’t achieve anything additional for the country or its law enforcement,” said Prasanto K Roy, cyber policy expert.
“And the OTTs face other upcoming regulations, including Data Protection and the Digital India Act. Even though the extant 1885 act was overdue by about a half-century for an overhaul, this duplication is unnecessary,” he added.
Others such as Salman Waris, a partner at legal firm TechLegis was of the view that the “government is trying to put in place multiple mechanisms to exercise control over the internet via different regulations, ( it) wants to have the ability to be able to ‘control and analyse’ content and communication on OTT players in ‘real-time’ rather than conducting a post-mortem subsequently.”
Pointing to “substantial overlap ( between) the proposed draft of the Telecommunication Bill, the existing provisions of the IT Act and IT Rules, and the now withdrawn Personal Data Protection Bill,” Waris said it will “only add to the regulatory woes of service providers.”
Noting that the “end-to-end encryption offered by many OTT players has been a bone of contention. While the intermediary rules obligate apps to provide on-demand information to law enforcement agencies, apps, citing encryption, express inability,” he added.
Divided Views
To be sure telecom operators have argued for regulation of OTT players that offer similar communication services. While telecom companies are subjected to various licensing and regulatory provisions, OTT players virtually operate unregulated, preventing a level-playing field, according to Waris.
Aman Taneja, Lead, Emerging Technologies, Ikigai Law, said, “Both regulations need to be crafted such that there is no mingling of the streams. Specifically, on the aspect of traceability and breaking end-to-end encryption, there are already cases challenging these provisions which are pending, so judicial clarity on these aspects becomes all the more important.”
Holding that it is possible for more than one regulator to regulate a space, Taneja said it is, however, important to have clarity about what aspects each regulator oversees to avoid any inconsistency that is difficult for businesses to navigate. For instance, “while the proposed telecom law looks at licensing obligations and consequences which flow from that, the Digital India Bill which is still awaited may be limited to content regulation and conditions for intermediary safe harbour,” he said.
Elsewhere, lawyers pointed to the possibility of the new “Digital India Bill reported to replace the Information Technology Act, 2000 soon, may or may not provide for provisions to govern OTT altogether, including the aspect of content services by OTT platforms.”
Harsh Walia, Partner, Khaitan & Co, said, under the new telecom Bill, the definition of “telecommunication services” includes, inter alia, OTT communication services only and thus does not give the impression to incorporate OTT, as a whole, within its scope.”
However, as one “cannot rule out potential overlap of powers that may arise in the future, it is only prudent to expect that the Government will enact these Bills after extensive caution,” he added.

NEWS RELATED

Science Saturday: Space mission and breakthrough fossil discovery

In this week’s Science Saturday, we look at science news ranging from an explosive space mission to a breakthrough fossil discovery. Planetary defense test A NASA spacecraft has crashed into an asteroid in a world-first test of planetary defense. The slam occurred on Monday, striking the asteroid Dimorphos, 11.2 ...

View more: Science Saturday: Space mission and breakthrough fossil discovery

Musk's advice to younger self: 'Stop and smell the roses

ETtech In an evening devoted to robots and computer technology, a questioner asked what the 51-year=old would tell his younger self Tesla Inc’s famously focused chief executive, Elon Musk, faced one question at the company’s ‘AI Day’ event on Friday that momentarily stumped him.In an evening devoted to robots and ...

View more: Musk's advice to younger self: 'Stop and smell the roses

Suspected Chinese hackers tampered with widely used customer chat program

ETtech The scope and scale of the hack was not immediately clear. In a message, Comm100 said it had fixed its software earlier Thursday and that more details would soon be forthcoming. The company did not immediately respond to follow-up requests for information. Suspected Chinese hackers tampered with widely used ...

View more: Suspected Chinese hackers tampered with widely used customer chat program

Discovery of new microscopic species expands the tree of life

Legendrea loyezae with trailing tentacles. Credit: Bournemouth University Scientists have discovered several very rare species of microorganisms, some of which have never been seen before and others which have escaped the curious eyes of scientists for over a hundred years. The discovery of these elusive species, published in the ...

View more: Discovery of new microscopic species expands the tree of life

5G launch | Jio will deliver 5G services in every town by December 2023, says Mukesh Ambani. Read full text

The rollout of 5G in India is not an ordinary event in India’s telecom history, says RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on October 1 said that telecom company Jio will launch 5G services across India by December 2023. Ambani was speaking at the India Mobile ...

View more: 5G launch | Jio will deliver 5G services in every town by December 2023, says Mukesh Ambani. Read full text

Microsoft Brings Back Task Manager to Windows Taskbar in Latest Build

Microsoft has finally brought back the Task Manager to where it rightfully belongs on the Windows taskbar. Windows users who subscribe to the Dev Channel of Windows Insider will have access to a patch updating their Windows 11 to Preview Build 25211, which allows them to summon the Task ...

View more: Microsoft Brings Back Task Manager to Windows Taskbar in Latest Build

24 Top Tips for Wiring Switches and Outlets Yourself

Bigger Cover Plates Don’t Reverse Hot and Neutral Wires Don’t Cut Wires Too Short Bigger Cover Plates Find Circuit Breakers Don’t Install a Three-Slot Receptacle Without a Ground Don’t Wire a GFCI Backward Oversize Plates Hide Mistakes Supply Proper Support for Outlets and Switches Recessing Boxes Behind the Wall ...

View more: 24 Top Tips for Wiring Switches and Outlets Yourself

No Terminator: Musk teases 'useful' humanoid robot

Elon Musk says an Optimus humanoid robot that Tesla is developing could be priced at less than $20,000 and wind up doing most of the work while people reap the benefits. Elon Musk on Friday showed off the latest version of a humanoid robot that the world’s richest man ...

View more: No Terminator: Musk teases 'useful' humanoid robot

What reptile's bones can teach us about Earth's perilous past

Exploring Europa possible with silicon-germanium transistor technology

Tesla AI Day 2022: Walking Humanoid Robot Optimus Has Been Revealed

Ubisoft Will Help Gamers Transfer Their Stadia Purchases to PC

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Denies That the Company is for Sale

Musk previews Tesla's humanoid robot, but cautions it is not ready just yet

Tesla robot walks, waves, but doesn't show off complex tasks

Redmi Pad full design revealed before launch in an unboxing video

Tesla previews humanoid robot, but Musk cautions it is not ready just yet

Google Stadia: Ubisoft will allow you to transfer your game purchases

Google Pixel 7 series India pre-order date officially confirmed

Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra have microphone issues – Apple is aware

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network