Instant messaging apps will not require a license to operate in India.
However, these platforms will have to ensure the cyber security of the users.
Also, these apps may require their users to do KYC.
New Delhi. Recently some concerns were highlighted regarding instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal. At that time there was news that to operate these apps in India, a license would have to be taken from the government. However, in this regard, officials of the Department of Telecom say that these apps will not require a license to operate in India, but to continue the services without a license, these platforms will have to ensure the cyber security of the users.
A report said that a consensus has been reached between the government and the stakeholders on the draft of the telecom bill. It has been said in the draft that telecom companies should give priority to user security. However, the department is firm on its stand that there is a need to regulate the OTT platform. This is for security purpose. The government says that its purpose is to protect people from becoming victims of cyber fraud as well as national security.
Difficult to track calling of apps
According to a senior DoT official, 60-70% of voice calls are currently taking place on these apps, which are difficult to track as compared to traditional voice calls and messages. For example, the messaging app WhatsApp. WhatsApp has the largest market in India. Experts say that WhatsApp has the highest share in calls made through communication apps in India.
Call detail records must be stored
Telecom operators are required to store the Call Detail Record (CDR) of all voice calls for at least one year. CDR comes in handy when required by data protection agencies. At present there is no such requirement for OTT calls.
May have to do KYC
All OTT platforms offering telecom service will have to ensure user verification through KYC process to their customer. This means that WhatsApp and other companies may not require a license to operate in India, but they may need to do KYC of their users like telcos.
Telecom companies want similar rules
Telecom companies want similar rules for WhatsApp and themselves. India’s top telecom operators have demanded that OTT communication service be clearly defined in the draft telecom bill to bring in broadness and avoid any possible ambiguity. He has also reiterated the need for a level playing field with respect to OTT telecom service and has also sought similar regulatory conditions.
In a recently released statement, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has suggested that telecom service and OTT apps do not work on the same layer. These companies said that OTT should be asked to comply with security requirements and other regulatory obligations. The association represents India’s top telcos Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.