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Only OTT communication players to be regulated under new telecom bill

Under the proposed telecom bill, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may only regulate over-the-top (OTT) communication players like WhatsApp, Google Meet, and Telegram. It may not regulate the platforms that offer content like Netflix and Amazon Prime or that offer e-commerce services, a report by Economic Times (ET) said.

The report further quoted officials as saying that the regulation will focus on the security perspective and not on revenue-raising measures like licence fees. The aim is not to hurt the growth of these platforms.

The central government has put up the telecom bill for public consultation. Several experts had expressed confusion in understanding the meaning of “OTT communication services”. Several other issues will be addressed soon, officials said.

There were several concerns that non-communication OTT players such as food aggregators and streaming services might be subject to licensing and regulation by the telecom department.

Any two-way communication between an app and its users will be considered as telecom services and may be regulated, a report said. Customer support operations for an app are a case in point.

If the OTT communication services are brought under the ambit of telecom services, companies will be required to do the know-your-customer (KYC) verification of their users. This is a regular process for telecom operators like Jio, Airtel and Vi.

“Distinction between a voice and data call has disappeared. KYC needs to be done for all the platforms and the services have to come under the same law,” Ashwini Vaishnaw, union minister for electronics and information technology said in September. Business Standard

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