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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Letting go of a chance to democratize telecom services

 Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Governance, digital India, Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 etc
  • Mains GS Paper III: Digital India, cybercrime, Important aspects of governance(e governance, accountability)etc



  • The draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 (Telecom Bill) — published for public consultation aims to create a legal framework attuned to the realities of the 21st century.




Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022:

  • Update the extant regulatory framework: The draft is to update the extant regulatory framework in keeping with the advancements and challenges in the sector.
  • Repeal legislations: It looks to repeal three legislations and “restructure the legal and regulatory framework” for the telecommunications sector.
  • Enabling the government to order suspension of internet power: It has been introduced through the draft Bill.
    • Currently, suspension of internet services is ordered under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • Primary route for allocation of the spectrum is auction: when spectrum is to be allocated for certain functions of the government such as defense or transportation.
  • TSP to exploit its spectrum resource fully: By enabling sharing, trading, leasing, surrendering or returning unutilised spectrum.
  • Simplifies: The Bill also simplifies the process for restructuring, merging or demerging.
  • Land owned by a public entity: It mandates that land owned by a public entity should be available expeditiously unless there is an express ground of refusal.
  • Universal Service Obligation Fund: It allows this fund to be utilized for other purposes such as urban areas connectivity, research etc.


Issues Involved:

  • Democratization: The Telecom Bill misses the opportunity for the democratization of telecommunication services.
  • Centralisation: It has preferred a move towards centralisation of power through its new licensing regime.
  • Failed to include modern laws: It also fails to inculcate the learnings evolved in courts and other institutions of authority.
  • Pre-independence laws: Repackages the provisions from pre-Independence laws to pass them off as legislative advancements.
  • Clause 24(2)(b) of the Telecom Bill: It lays down a specific power for suspension of Internet services (Internet shutdowns).
    • The clause does not solve any of the issues that exist with the current framework for Internet shutdowns in India,


Over-the-top (OTT) communication services:

  • It refers to services that provide real time person-to-person telecommunication services.
  • Some popular examples include:
    • Messaging platforms like Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, Messenger, Duo, Google Meet etc.

Issues related to OTT:

  • Reductionist approach: OTT services can only be accessed through telco-controlled infrastructure.
    • Introduction of OTT communication services under the ambit of telecommunication services is a reductionist approach.


Issues related to TRAI:

  • The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) did not recognise the positive recommendations of TRAI and diluted TRAI’s responsibility of providing recommendations to the central government.


Privacy Issues:

  • Data localisation: It requires online service providers to store data locally, in India.
    • Such a data localisation requirement confers excessive discretion to the Government, and adversely affects the privacy of individuals.
  • Practice of E2EE: It formalizes attempts of the executive to bypass the privacy protecting practice of E2EE and requires OTT communication service providers to intercept or disclose any message or class of messages to the authorized officer.


Way Forward

  • Internet shutdown: The impact Internet shutdowns have on the fundamental right to free speech of citizens, the high economic costs have been consistently raised as a criticism which needs to be addressed.
  • Socio-Economic growth: The Telecom Bill recognises socio-economic growth as one of its stated objectives, steps which promote growth should be taken.
  • Anuradha Bhasin vs Union Of India: Learnings and recommendations from the Supreme Court’s decision and the 2021 report of the Standing Committee on Information Technology need to be taken into consideration.



  1. Discuss different types of Cyber crimes and measures required to be taken to fight the menace.(UPSC 2020)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)