Telecommunications Bill, 2023: Basics Explained

Indian Parliament passed the Telecommunications Bill, 2023 to reform the country’s century-old telecom law and  replaces the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933, and The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act of 1950.

The Bill defines telecommunication; means transmission, emission or reception of any messages, by wire, radio, optical or other electro-magnetic systems, whether or not such messages have been subjected to rearrangement, computation or other processes by any means in the course of their transmission, emission or reception.

The bill  central empowered government  to notify any telecom network as a ‘critical telecommunication network’ if the disruption of that network “shall have a debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health or safety.”

The legislation would allow authorities to intercept or block messages between any persons relating to “any particular subject” in the event of a public emergency or the interest of public safety.; enabling identification of the first originator of the information. empowers the central government to notify standards and conformity assessment measures in respect of encryption and data processing in telecommunication.

In place of a licensing regime as per the legislation permission will be granted by the government to provide telecommunication services and to establish, operate, maintain, or expand telecom networks, according to the Bill. ; opened the door for administrative allocation of spectrum for satellite broadband services,

The Bill would require authorized entities such as WhatsApp to carry out biometric-based identification of users (that is verification of a person’s identity through their fingerprints, iris, etc).

The Bill legitimizes and enhances the government’s almost unchecked powers to intercept communication to intercept or block messages,

Senders should take the prior consent of users to send specified messages or messages that are “offering, advertising or promoting goods, services, interest in property, business opportunity, employment opportunity or investment opportunity.”

Obtaining a SIM or other telecom resources through fraud, personation, or cheating, will result in a jail term of up to three years and a fine of ₹50 lakh.; provision for crimes related to spoofing or cloning of SIM cards


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