Regulators

DoT seeks views on blocking mobile apps like FB, WhatsApp

Chamber of commerce Assocham criticises move, saying it could hurt Digital India dream

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2018/08/07/whatsapp.jpg?itok=ByIESuA9

NEW DELHI: India’s telecom department has sought views of the stakeholders on technical measures that can be adopted for blocking mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram. The proposal has been questioned and criticised by a large section of the industry and civil society, including chamber of commerce Assocham.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on 18 July, 2018 had written to all telecom operators, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and others and asked for their inputs to block applications under Section 69A of the Information technology Act. Stated aim: to uphold national security and public order.

"DoT in the letter had said that the Ministry of Electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies have raised issue around blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telecom, etc. to meet requirement under Section 69A of IT Act," PTI quoted an unnamed government source aware of the development.

However, a source at DoT, on condition of anonymity, told the wire news service there was no such move to block any app and the telecom department had only started a consultation process based on a reference from the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology (Meity).

Though PTI filed a news report on the development yesterday in the second half, the story was actually broken by online news portal medianama.com, which said it had reviewed the letter.

The Section 69A of IT Act talks about power to issue directions for blocking for public access to any information through any computer resource. The law authorises the federal government or any officer authorised by it to issue direction to block the information on Internet in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.

"Meity (Ministry of Electronics and IT) has informed DoT that blocking such apps during emergency situations are difficult as they work through multiple IP addresses and on different protocols, and, hence, there is a need for a reasonable good solution to protect national security. Being the licensing authority, DoT has initiated the discussion based on a letter received from the Group Coordinator, Cyber Law Division (Meity) during the second week of July," a DoT official told PTI.

In response to DoT consultation, industry body Assocham said that a proposed measure to evolve mechanisms to block applications as a whole at the telecom operator level is excessive, unnecessary, and would greatly harm India's reputation as growing hub of innovation in technology as the country needed a “clear and predictable legal framework grounded on fairness, proportionality and the rule of law”.

Assocham said that with the development in technology, there have emerged tools such as virtual private network, which enables users to access content that may have been blocked at telecom service provider (TSP) or internet service provider (ISP) level.

"In this scenario, blocking of applications at the TSP/ISP level may not be an efficacious solution as users can get around the same with increasing ease. Therefore, the focus on developing mechanism to block content may be unwarranted," Assocham said in a letter to the top-most government official at DoT, which was also sent to other senior civil servants.

Assocham has buttressed its arguments against blocking of mobile apps by stating that online apps contribute substantially to India’s digital economy. Overall the Internet eco-system is expected to contribute up to $ 537.4 billion to overall India’s GDP of which a minimum of $ 270.9 billion could be attributed to apps, Assocham has pointed out quoting market research

Recently, there have been widespread incidents of mob lynching in the country based on rumours spread through social media apps. The popular messaging app WhatsApp has been in the eye of storm over abuse of its platform for circulation of fake news that resulted in incitement of mob fury.

An IT ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said WhatsApp has not committed itself on "traceability" and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government. Hence, the ministry's concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the source was quoted by PTI.

Last month, the government had expressed dissatisfaction over measures previously listed by WhatsApp for checking fake news that have, in several cases, triggered mob violence. WhatsApp told the government it was building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation.

Over the last one year, the Indian government has been exploring various avenues to regulate online media content, some of them botched at the initial stage, while some like the setting up of a social media hub to monitor Indians’ digital footprints was scrapped by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after Supreme Court questioned the proposal stating whether it could lead to a surveillance state. However, a government body still exists that has the mandate to look into online media norms.

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/15/mobile.jpg?itok=u3YqD9Hd
DPIIT seeks MIB views on issues regarding 26% FDI in digital media sector

MUMBAI: As the cabinet recently amended the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 26 per cent overseas investment in digital media with government approval, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sought the views of the Ministry of Information and...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/11/tab.jpg?itok=kiFijqlq
No current plans to impose regulation on OTT sector: MIB secretary

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) secretary Amit Khare said there is a need to rethink regulating over-the-top (OTT) platforms because some sections of the society are voicing concerns on its content. However, Khare also added that the ministry currently does not have any plan to...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/10/trai_0.jpg?itok=8Q_UqNnB
TRAI organises international training programme on 'Emerging Trends in Broadcasting' with ITU

MUMBAI: The   Intemational  Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are jointly organizing an Intemational Training Program during 9th -11th October 2019 in New Delhi on "Emerging Trends in Broadcasting".

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/10/trai.jpg?itok=15qmYZIl
TRAI mandates DPOs to let subscribers view, modify subscription through TRAI app, portal

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Addressable Systems) (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2019 (6 of 2019). TRAI's prevailing regulations/orders for the television...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/04/prakash.jpg?itok=f4Do6DPP
I&B Ministry plans regulations for OTT platforms

MUMBAI: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (MIB) is contemplating a regulation for OTT platforms on the lines of print and electronic media, according to a news article by the Press Trust of India. Minister Prakash Javadekar, however, said that the government will not be taking any step that...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/01/trai.jpg?itok=Qek4njUn
DPOs say broadcasters misusing TRAI tariff order with heavy discounts

Distribution platform operators (DPOs) believe that broadcasters have misused the flexibility available to them to give a discount on the sum of a-la-carte as high as 90 per cent. The operators have shared their views on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) consultation paper (CP) on ‘...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/30/prasar.jpg?itok=rNTEHcRx
Broadcasters want mandatory DD channels to be part of NCF base pack

Prasar Bharati and other private broadcasters want the 25 DD mandatory channels to be part of 100 FTA channels permitted in the Network Capacity Fee of Rs 130. The public broadcaster is of the view that the channels notified by the central government should be made available to subscribers without...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/28/itv_inb.jpg?itok=qmXhvgeI
MIB issues notice to 69 channels to provide technical parameters with EMMC

MUMBAI: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a notice instructing 69 private satellite channels to provide complete set of technical parameters with Electronic  Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC)  of the ministry. While the notice was issues on 25 September, the channels have been...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/27/Supreme%20Court.jpg?itok=3Xv1wPox
Supreme Court allows transfer of DTH licence fee petition from Kerala HC

MUMBAI: Moving one step closer to the long-fought battle on licence fees between direct-to-home (DTH) operators and the government of India, the Supreme Court has allowed the transfer of a related case to the apex court from the Kerala High Court.

Regulators Supreme Court

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories