After rolling out the new tariff order for cable and DTH subscriptions that caused confusion and pushed up subscription rates, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now mooted KYC (know your customer) compliance for set-top boxes and DTH connections.
TRAI floated a consultation paper on July 19 that is open for comments till August 19 on its website following a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting letter to it in December 2018 seeking recommendations on the issue. The Ministry’s letter mentioned a couple of safeguards to be applied “for restricting smuggling of DTH equipment to other countries”.
Surprisingly, despite a Supreme Court judgment in September 2018 that struck down Section 57 that allowed private entities to seek Aadhaar data, the Ministry suggested to TRAI twice, in December 2018 and March 2019, to consider making verification of Aadhaar card mandatory for any customer purchasing DTH equipment, according to the consultation paper.
The Ministry had suggested that “in order to check location in accordance with customer ID/Card ID, location-based services need to be made active in DTH set-top boxes. GPS enabled set-top boxes with geo-fencing to Indian coordinates may only be used to restrict the illegal DTH run in other countries”.
On the issue of the use of Aadhaar, the consultation paper pointed to the Department of Telecom’s order of October 26, 2018 regarding discontinuation of Aadhaar e-KYC, and a new order issued in April for an alternate digital KYC process for issuing new connections to mobile subscribers.
“One may argue that DTH is not a critical service and moreover it is only one-way transmission and therefore, there is no need to prescribe any KYC norms for this. However, on the other hand, As set-top boxes are being smuggled to other countries; it may be necessary to keep a check on this practice. It is very important to note that verification through OTP or e-KYC will not have much cost to the DTH operators,” the paper said.―The Hindu