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telecom law

Global tech giant Meta, known for platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, has raised concerns about the Indian government’s proposed telecom law. The worry stems from the possibility of the law extending its regulatory reach to over-the-top (OTT) applications, including messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal.

Regulatory Ambit: Meta is worried that the new Telecom Bill, presented in the Indian Parliament, could be used to regulate OTT services in the future. This includes internet apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Internal Communication: Shivnath Thukral, Meta’s Director and Head of India Public Policy, shared these concerns in an internal email to colleagues. He highlighted the potential for the government to apply the legislation to OTT services at a later date.

Changes in the Bill: While the specific term ‘OTT’ has been removed from the current version of the legislation, concerns persist due to the expansive definitions of ‘telecommunication services’ and ‘messages’ in the bill.

Government Powers: The proposed law grants the government extensive powers, including the ability to intercept messages, establish encryption standards, and assume control over telecom networks.

Broader Definitions: Experts are cautious about the broad definitions in the bill, even though the reference to ‘OTT’ has been omitted.

Ongoing Debate: Meta’s concerns add to the ongoing debate around the balance between regulatory control and the freedom of internet applications in India.

As the Telecom Bill progresses through the legislative process, the tech industry and policymakers will continue to navigate discussions regarding regulatory frameworks, privacy, and the evolving landscape of digital communication in India.

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