23 February, 2024

Telecom Bill drops OTT reference, mandates biometric identification for new SIM cards

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The Telecommunications Bill 2023 has excluded over the top (OTT) services in its definition of telecom services which comes as a sigh of relief for such players.

The new version of the bill excludes OTT services, such as online messaging players like WhatsApp, video-streaming platform Skype, streaming services and digital payments from its purview.

The previous draft version included OTT services in its purview, which triggered huge debate among the internet companies and other stakeholders.

A draft proposal by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on selective banning of OTT or Internet services resulted in a fierce debate among industry bodies, internet companies and startup founders.

The Bill also includes a provision mandating biometric identification for telecom companies before issuing SIM cards to people.

“Any authorised entity which provides such telecommunication services as may be notified by the Central government, shall identify the person to whom it provides telecommunication services through use of any verifiable biometric-based identification as may be prescribed,” the proposed legislation read.

The Bill was tabled amid uproar by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday afternoon in the Parliament.

The Telecommunication Bill 2023 empowers the government to suspend or prohibit use of telecom equipment from countries or a person as may be notified in case of national security.


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