Parliament passed a bill on December 21 that seeks to amend and consolidate the laws relating to the development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks and the assignment of spectrum.
The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, which also amends certain provisions of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, was passed by Rajya Sabha after a brief debate. It was passed by Lok Sabha on December 20.
The new bill seeks to repeal the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.
Replying to the debate, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that there is a need to create a legal and regulatory framework that focuses on a safe and secure telecommunication network that provides for digitally inclusive growth.
The bill has strict provisions in checking fraudulent issuance of SIM cards. Any violation or impersonation will entail three years of imprisonment along with fine. There is also strict provision related for crimes related to “spoofing”.
Vaishnaw said user protection is a key reform in the Bill. The Bill provides for a simplified procedure and authorisation of licencing through a single window. The telecommunications sector is a key driver of economic and social development and is the gateway to digital services and the security of the country is vitally dependent on safety of telecommunication networks.
Vaishnaw said the Bill will further enhance India’s digital public infrastructure and Digital Bharat Nidhi will also contribute to providing telecom services in saturation mode.
The current legal framework is governed by three laws enacted in 1885, 1933 and 1950.
The bill provides a framework for standards and conformity assessment of telecommunication equipment, telecommunication identifiers, telecommunication network and telecommunication services and provisions for national security, public emergency and public safety.
(with inputs from ANI)