Over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Whatsapp, Signal and Facebook, may not need licences to operate in India. These platforms, however, will have to focus more on user protection regulations
Preliminary discussions between the government and industry stakeholders on the draft telecom bill have led to the understanding that user protection provisions within the legislation must be prioritized, while discussions will continue on light-touch regulations for such platforms offering communication services over the internet, said a report by Livemint.
“What we understand now is that people (OTTs) are okay with user protection related regulations...they did not want to have licence and that was not our intent as well," The report cited an officials as saying.
Another official close to the matter said the government is not looking to bring in heavy regulations on OTTs, but ensure consumer protection and security of the state.
“We are not going to levy a licence fee on OTTs; that was not the goal," the reported quoted the official as saying.
Leading telecom players such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have been consistently asking the government to bring OTTs under the licensing regime and, hence, be liable to pay levies, charges and taxes, that are presently levied on carriers.
The telcos have also urged the government to ensure that OTTs are mandated to comply with security requirements, lawful interception and other regulatory obligations.
A new, clearer definition of OTT communication services has also been sought by the telcos in the new telecom bill.