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IAMAI suggests govt to keep OTT and DTH services out of telecom bill

Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has suggested the government to keep OTT (Over-the-top) and DTH (Direct To Home) services out of the purview of the Telecommunications Bill, 2022, reported The Economic Times.

Internet and social media intermediaries such as Meta, Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft, and several others have complained to the government that the draft Telecom Bill’s definition of “telecommunications” is “overly broad”.

This was stated by the internet and social media companies in their comments on the draft bill that was submitted under the umbrella of IAMAI. The draft telecom bill was presented in September by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The DoT has extended the deadline for comments and suggestions to November 20.

IAMAI said in its submission that ‘telecommunication’ can cover video calls, emails, messages as well as other cloud service providers.

The rules governing telecom service providers (TSPs) should not be extended to over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and others because they are application layers, it was stated in the submission. IAMAI has argued in its submission that services that operate as application layers over these distribution services, such as internet-based services, cannot be regarded as resources or services that are owned and controlled by the central government or that it has exclusive privilege over because, in essence, these do not distribute the natural resource but are instead services that are provided using the services that distribute spectrum.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm, though, differed from the views put forth by IAMAI.

Apart from IAMAI, policy advocacy groups such as BSA, Software Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, Internet Society, and Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) have also flagged the expanded definition of ‘telecommunications’ as envisaged in the draft bill. Business Standard

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