In a recent statement, Indian Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw provided clarity on the regulatory scope of the new telecom bill, assuring that over-the-top (OTT) players or applications would not fall under its purview. Instead, these entities will continue to be regulated by the Information Technology Act of 2000. This clarification follows concerns raised by app makers and activists regarding the broad definition of ‘telecommunications’ in the new bill.

Vaishnaw, who holds multiple portfolios including Minister for Electronics and IT and Railways, emphasized that OTT services have been and will continue to be regulated by the IT Act of 2000. He stated, “There is no coverage of OTT in the new telecom bill passed by the Parliament.”

The government’s stance has been met with approval from industry representatives. Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, expressed support for the exclusion of OTTs from the telecom bill, highlighting its positive impact on the digital ecosystem and internet economy in the country. The Broadband India Forum (BIF), which includes major players like Amazon, Google, Meta, Netflix, and OneWeb, also welcomed the government’s clarity on the matter.

BIF President TV Ramachandran stated, “The bill is very clear. We believe it has been clarified by the government that OTTs are already covered by the IT Act and overseen by MeitY (the ministry of electronics and information technology). I do not think there is any doubt.”

Once assented to by the President, the Telecommunications Bill, 2023, will replace three archaic laws, including the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933. The bill’s definition of telecommunications includes the transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, and intelligence of any nature.

This clarification by the government is expected to provide reassurance and clarity to the regulation of OTT services, addressing concerns and fostering a conducive environment for the continued growth of the digital economy in India.

By Admin

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