Over-the-top (OTT) communication apps like WhatsApp and Signal may soon be regulated in India. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sent a reference to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for consultation, according to a report by BusinessLine (BL).
DoT has undertaken various deliberations to regulate OTT communication apps to prevent the misuse of technology, the report added.
The department will soon start consultation with the Ministry of Electronics and IT, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
In November 2018, TRAI had issued a paper titled, “Regulatory Framework for OTT Communication Services”, seeking the regulation of apps in India.
However, after consultation, in September 2020, with several stakeholders, it ruled out the need for any such regulation at the time. But it also added that the review would be done soon.
Also, it had said that hasty regulation may harm the industry and thus market forces be allowed to respond to the situation, without TRAI’s intervention until needed.
The telecom operators will, according to BL, welcome the move as they have long demanded that OTT apps that provide the same services as operators should be subjected to similar regulations.
Industry bodies, on the other hand, including the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), have been opposing any such regulatory provisions since TRAI’s paper in 2018.