Over the top – on Telecommunication Bill 2022

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Source: The post is based on an article “Over the top” published in The Hindu on 26th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Fundamental Rights

Relevance: Telecommunication Bill 2022 and problems associated with it.

News: The draft telecommunication Bill provides for new definition for telecommunication.

The new definition includes everything from broadcasting services to electronic mail, from voice mail to voice, video and data communication services, and that the Government may notify separately.

However, bringing these services under regulation will be a threat to user’s privacy and data security.

What are the privacy related issues associated with the bill?

SC has said that right to privacy is a fundamental right. But the draft bill has failed to acknowledge it. This can be seen from the various provisions of the drafts.

For example,

  1. The Government has the powers to prevent a message from being transmitted on the occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety.
  2. Another clause in the draft Bill requires a license entity to provide information of the person to whom it provides services.

A similar clause under the IT rules was brought in last year.

It required messaging apps to enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource. However, it has been challenged in the Court.

It brings us to the question of whether this is technically possible without breaking encryption and making all communications vulnerable.

These provisions in the absence of data protection law may create problems for the people.

Therefore, the Government needs to upgrade its thinking on users and privacy and this draft needs to be dropped.

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