Govt Suggests Putting WhatsApp, Zoom, More Under Telecom License Ambit, May Allow Interception of Calls

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Toughening its stand against video communication and calling apps, the Centre has proposed to bring Meta-owned WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Duo under the ambit of telecom license, as written in the draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill 2022.

The government has, however, proposed to give exemption to press messages that are intended to be published in India of correspondents accredited to the Central or state governments from being intercepted.

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“For provision of Telecommunication Services and Telecommunication Networks, an entity shall have to obtain a license,” according to the draft. The last date for public comment on the draft is October 20.

In another significant clause, the draft bill, released late Wednesday, proposes to waive off fees and penalty of telecom and internet service providers.

The exemption for press messages, though, won’t be given in case of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety, sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or to prevent incitement to an offence, the draft read.

The draft bill was put up on social media by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

It also proposes refund of fees if an internet or telecom service provider offers to surrender the license.

The draft bill says that the Centre may “waive off in part or full any fee, including entry fees, license fees, registration fees or any other fees or charges, interest, additional charges or penalty” for any licence holder or registered entity under the telecom rules.

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