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TRAI to start consultation on regulation of OTT apps soon

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will start a consultation process on the regulation of over-the-top (OTT) apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, The Economic Times (ET) reported on Friday.

The Trai’s major concerns are: are any regulations required for these apps, and which class of OTT apps must be brought under its ambit? Moreover, the consultation will also look into the definition of OTT, the demand for a level playing ground for telcos and existing international practices.

Trai was earlier of the view that OTT players should not be regulated. However, it is revisiting its stance after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) request.

The DoT wants to regulate only communication OTT apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, and not the broadcasting ones like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The draft telecom bill has not defined communication apps, but Trai wants to address the issue and name the set of apps it can clearly regulate, ET said.

Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier made it clear that the purpose of regulating communication OTT apps was to guard the customers and not generate revenue.

The DoT had also proposed the need for a mandatory know-your-customer (KYC) mechanism for all such apps in the draft telecom bill.

The ET report also added that the Centre believes DoT should be the nodal ministry for communication apps, while the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) should continue to look after content, including apps like Disney Hotstar. Business Standard

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