WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal To Need Licence To Operate
In recent times, instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal have become the go-to medium for communication. They have revolutionized the way people communicate with each other.
The telecom Bill has raised some concerns about whether these apps will be able to continue their operations without a licence. This is because they are using public telecommunications networks to operate.
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It is not clear if the new law will come into effect immediately or not. However, it will be interesting to see how these companies handle the new regulation.The telecom Bill, which is being debated in the Parliament now, has raised some concerns about instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal. The Bill has proposed to make these apps mandatory to seek a licence to operate. KYC may be coming for WhatsApp and other calling apps , but the new Bill also contains a phrase which suggests that “certain electronic devices or systems” will be brought under the purview of a licensing regime as well.
The Bill goes on to add, “The competent authority may impose such conditions, restrictions or prohibitions on any person wishing to install, maintain and use an electronic device or system within its jurisdiction that it considers necessary for the purpose of ensuring law and order.” WhatsApp’s terms state: “Please read this agreement carefully before clicking ‘I
The proposal comes following a meeting between the heads of leading telecom operators, MTC and Bharti Airtel in Bangalore.In a letter dated 7 May, the companies expressed that they “have come to understand from media reports and discussions with industry stakeholders that the draft Telecom Bill has introduced a new definition of OTT communication service provider”. They said this could have potentially serious consequences for both telecom operators as well as their customers.
The letter said that the companies are “deeply concerned” about this issue and expressed their view that the definition of OTT communication service provider should be withdrawn.A day after Bharti Airtel and MTC expressed their concerns, telecom regulator TRAI issued a clarification stating that an OTT communication service provider is a person who provides communication services without making use of any telecommunication network or infrastructure owned by him/her. The clarification stated that under the proposed Bill, OTT communication service providers are the same as service providers under the existing law.The Bill had been drafted to define the term OTT communication service provider and is a part of the proposed Communication Service Provider (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
WhatsApp: The most popular messaging app in India with over 200 million users and it’s free.
Telegram: It is said that Telegram was founded by a former Russian intelligence officer who was fed up with the limitations of existing messaging services and wanted to create an encrypted communications platform where messages were not stored on servers but were instead distributed among all participants who could read them.
Signal: This app is available for both iOS and Android devices and it’s said that its security features are comparable to those of WhatsApp or Telegram.