Indian government’s move to implement the Supreme Court ruling on privacy is being closely watched as it is a subject where developed nations have taken lead and has significant bearing on security and trust of people on telecom services, a senior officer of global telecom body GSM Association said.
“The Supreme Court ruling on privacy is an area that is going to be very closely watched. Historically, folks around privacy and data protection have come primarily from United States and European Union. Its going to be very interesting to observe, how the government interprets the ruling of Supreme Court and how that will be manifested in data protection regulations,” GSMA Asia Pacific Head Alasdair Grant told PTI in an interview.
The Supreme Court in a judgement on August 24, 2017 declared right to privacy a fundamental right, a far-reaching verdict that could impact a range of life choices of Indians, including food habits and sexual orientation.
The government had constituted a 10-member committee in July 2017 to recommend a framework for securing personal data in the increasingly digitised economy as also address privacy concerns and build safeguards against data breaches. The panel has completed public consultation process. The recommendation of the committee will be used for framing data protection and privacy rules in India.
“As licensed operators, we are subject to sector specific laws around data protection which means we are able to offer secure services that customers can trust,” Grant said.
He said the rules will clarify the attributes of India’s 12-digit unique identifier number Aadhaar and privacy issues around telecom subscribers.
GSMA is a global telecom operators’ body and at present it is being chaired by Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
“India’s thinking around policy and regulation is observed closely both throughout Asia pacific and world…we see digital India programme has been very profound programme to sustain economic development,” Grant said.
India at present is the second largest telecom services market in terms of subscriber base and largest in terms of mobile data usage.
Grant said that India is one of most rapidly growing country in the world.
“Almost 90 per cent of population have sim card but only approximately one quarter of population has mobile broadband. Which means that 30 per cent of mobile users have smartphone. The big socio-economic change for Indian citizen is (to) move from feature phone to smartphones. We are seeing with effective policy that is going to happen quickly. We feel there is need for more capacity, more 5G capacity,” he said.
Talking about ease of doing business in India, Grant said GSMA is very hopeful that government will look at issues around cost of doing business under the new telecom policy in works specially spectrum price and high taxes being paid by the telecom operators.
“Spectrum is the life blood of the industry and the Internet in India is mobile . So, spectrum is life blood of mobile because the digital ecosystem is absolutely central to India’s economic futures. Spectrum is critical path of India’s national infrastructure,” Grant said.
He said it is important that Indian government develops effective roadmap for the release of spectrum, in particular 5G spectrum.
“It is equally important that pricing of spectrum is rational. So that it allows for efficient infrastructure investment to promote financial health of industry. We are in midst of dramatic period of consolidation in the industry. Need for financially healthy industry is paramount,” Grant added.
He also said that when GSMA talks about best practices for spectrum, it is not about favouring any particular operator or fighting for lowest possible price.
“We are advocating for efficient pricing model,” he said.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, who was here to attend Mobile World Congress last week, said India will align with the world to enhance telecom footprint in the country and revenue generation will not be a priority for the government.