The Union Cabinet has cleared the Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill 2023.
The government issued the new Draft Indian Telecommunications Bill 2022 in September last year. The draft bill outlined that spectrum allocation can be conducted through auctions, administrative processes, or other mechanisms as decided by the government. Additionally, it empowers the government to block, intercept, or monitor messages exchanged between individuals or groups under certain circumstances, such as public emergencies or threats to public safety. Moreover, the bill provides provisions for the suspension of telecom services, subject to specific grounds as mentioned in its clauses.
According to industry sources, there are significant relaxations to the process of regulating over-the-top (OTT) communication services by requiring them to obtain a licence from the government, among the most contentious issues in the bill. The draft bill proposes to increase the scope of telecommunication services by including OTT, internet-based and satellite-based communication services, broadcasting, internet and broadband services within its ambit, which has been red flagged by social media and technology companies in the messaging space as it could lead to the regulation of OTT communication apps.
The bill is likely to be presented in the forthcoming session of the parliament next week.