The country’s top telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, as well as startups such as Paytm, have supported legal interception of messages from internet-based apps and services, acknowledging the importance of the same for investigation of criminal activities.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has advocated bringing OTT (Over the Top) content providers under the same licensing conditions as telcos, ET reports. They expressed support in a consultation paper, discussing regulation of communication platforms like WhatsApp. “We submit that Lawful Interception (LI) of every message is a legal and critical mean provided to the security agencies for investigation of criminal, anti-national, and anti-social activities,” Reliance Jio was noted by the report as saying in the former’s submission. “This along with data privacy is a license requirement for TSPs (Telecom Service Providers) and a similar requirement should be mandated for the OTT communication services providers,” Jio added.
On the other hand, industry bodies like National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), have an opposing view regarding increased regulations. They’ve said that additional regulations for OTT service providers are not necessary, since there are already enough provisions for them under existing laws like the IT Act. The industry associations further noted that enforcing more compliance requirements would create unnecessary burden for existing players, and even discourage new players from entering the OTT content space.
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IAMAI further added that all data traffic is already intercepted at international landing stations and doesn’t require further action. Both IAMAI and NASSCOM agreed that increased regulation would increase cost of services for users and bring uncertainty for services providers.