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“We’re just the pipe” say Mobile Operators, When It Comes To User Generated Content

So who is liable for user generated content in India – the platform or the user? This same debate, which is at the core of a number of lawsuits, has found a new platform: Voice Chat on telecom networks.

DNA reports that Mobile operators are denying any liability whatsoever for the voice chat services on their platform. What’s interesting is that they appears to be passing the buck to VAS companies. TV Ramachandran says “In plain terms, we only provide the pipeline for a value added service. What goes through the networks is neither a concern nor a responsibility of the telecom operator.” A Vodafone official has expressed similar sentiments. As per the report, Cellebrum provides voice chat services for Vodaphone, while Altruist is the vendor for Airtel.

So here’s the skinny – when it comes to everything else – revenue shares for content, for example – the operator claims they provide value and support and are “not just a pipe”. But when it comes to being liable for content being sent over their network, they’re “just a pipe”. That’s double-speak.

The TRAI doesn’t yet regulate Mobile VAS, but this appears to be another front that has opened up. Our take is that if the mobile operator is going to hold the VAS service provider liable, then that risk should come with its own reward. You can’t have your cake and eat it too…though that’s what they’ve been doing so far.

More on the issues around Mobile VAS at our post on

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TRAI Open House Discussion On Mobile VAS

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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