About the proposed telecom bill: Do not let a licence raj for apps set India back

Source: The post is based on the article “Do not let a licence raj for apps set India back” published in Livemint on 7th November 2022. 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: About the proposed telecom bill

News: India’s proposed telecom bill could transform how the internet is used in India.

About the proposed telecom bill
Read here: Draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022 – Explained, pointwise
What are the concerns associated with the proposed telecom bill?

Definition of telecommunication services: This includes almost every aspect of the present online experience instead of limited services.

Government’s monopoly: The government claims a default monopoly over all such services in India, with private players needing a licence to operate, just as telecom firms do. So Gmail, WhatsApp and Zoom, among other apps on handsets, would suddenly need a government nod.

Impact right to free expression: The internet is not owned by any state. Nor do apps use the state-allotted spectrum to work. But the licensing would imply a new level of control on the users might right to free expression.

Encompassing licence raj: Licensing would hand the state arbitrary authority over market entry. This tends to promote toll collection and suffocate innovation.

Only a maximalist ownership role of the state would allow state overlordship of chat enablers. This is an approach taken by colonial and communist regimes, not democratic administrations that prioritize business and social freedom.

Read here: Draft Telecom Bill enhances unease of doing biz amid regulatory overlaps
What needs to be done?

The Supreme Court has held privacy to be part of fundamental rights, which makes it essential to our democratic freedoms. The draft telecom bill violates them in both commercial sense and Constitutional wisdom. Parliament must not enact it in its current form.

Read more: Draft telecom Bill: A move that turns back the clock


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