A quick roundup of the developments in the Indian digital, tech and business ecosystem.

Policy updates

NSCS extends deadline to submit comments on National Cyber Security Strategy 2020: The National Security Council Secretariat extended the deadline to submit comments for the formulation of the National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 (NCSS 2020) by 10 days until January 10, 2020. Comments can be submitted here.

Intermediary Liability rules likely to be notified by January 15: The Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018 is likely to be notified by January 15, 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in its affidavit to the Supreme Court in October.

Wikimedia Foundation raises concerns over proposed intermediary liability changes: The proposed changes to India’s intermediary liability changes might “have serious impact on Wikipedia’s open editing model,” the Wikimedia Foundation said.

Standing Committee on IT granted extension to furnish report on Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019: The Standing Committee on IT has been granted an extension up to February 2020 to submit its report on the the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019, according to Business Standard.

Internet shutdowns

India sees widespread internet shutdowns following protests against CAA: In December 2019, police and government authorities in at least 9 different states have deployed internet shutdowns as a tool to contain protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed in the Parliament on December 11. See our complete coverage here.

Delhi HC dismisses plea challenging internet shutdown in Delhi NCR: The Delhi High Court dismissed a plea challenging an order passed by the Delhi Police which suspended telecom services in parts of Delhi NCR on December 19 in light of widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, reported LiveLaw.

Internet shutdowns take a toll on telcos, e-commerce

Amazon, Flipkart sales could have dropped by 18-20% owing to internet shutdowns: E-commerce companies including Amazon and Flipkart might have seen an 18-20% decline in sales in December due to internet suspension in various parts of the country, including in Delhi, according to Business Standard. 

Government should review internet shutdown policy, said COAI: The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in a letter said that Indian mobile operators are losing around ₹2.45 crore in revenue every hour they are forced to suspend internet services on government orders, reported Huffpost India.

5G

India gives green-light to Huawei’s participation in 5G trials: Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the ministry will not stop any equipment manufacturer from participating in India’s upcoming 5G trials, effectively green-lighting Huawei’s participation in the trials, reported news agency PTI. 

Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone have 10 days to submit their bids for the upcoming 5G trials, reported the Business Insider, and added that auction of airwaves will take place between March and April this year.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch ‘disappointed’ by Huawei’s participation in upcoming 5G trials: The Swadeshi Jagran Manch was “disappointed” after the government allowed Huawei to participate in India’s 5G trials, reported The Quint.

DoT to take final call on 5G vendors after assessing security vulnerabilities in 5G trials: DoT will take a final call on vendors who would be allowed to deploy 5G networks in India after it evaluates the upcoming 5G trials for security vulnerabilities, reported the Economic Times.

US had warned India of ‘risks’ posed by Chinese-made 5G network: India allowed Huawei from participating in the upcoming 5G trials despite having been warned  by the USA of the “risks” posed by Chinese-made networks, to the “treasured freedoms,” reported the Business Standard. 

Survival first priority, said Huawei: China’s Huawei said that “survival” was its first priority after it announced a fall in sales in 2019 compared to initial projections, reported the Economic Times.

Telecom

COAI seeks relief from SC’s AGR verdict, yet again: The COAI yet again urged the Indian government to reduce license fee and spectrum usage charges, after the Supreme Court’s AGR verdict has put the sector under stress, reported Business Standard.

DoT to seek relief for telco sector from Finance Ministry: The DoT will seek relief for the debt-ridden telecom sector from the Finance Ministry, reported The Hindu. 

RCom to consider bets of Jio, Airtel and others: Reliance Communications’ (RCom) committee of creditors (CoC)  are scheduled to meet on January 2, 2020, to consider bids of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel , Varde Partners and UVARCL, the Economic Times reported.

Mobile internet rates lowest in India, said RS Prasad: Mobile internet rates in India “remain by far the lowest in the world,” said Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after the country’s three major telcos — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — announced a hike in tariffs. 

Jio added more than 9 million subscribers in October 2019: In October 2019, Reliance Jio added 9.1 million subscribers — a market share of 58.3% wireless broadband users, according to the Economic Times. It’s competitors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, meanwhile, added 100,000 and 200,000 subscribers in the month.   

No blackout days in 2020, said BSNL: BSNL said that there will be no blackout days in 2020, reported Gizbot. Blackout days are when subscribers have to pay standard charges despite being subscribed to tariff plans.

Surveillance

Hoardings that urged people to be wary of CCTVs in Hyderabad taken down: Authorities in Hyderabad took down various hoardings that urged citizens to be “wary” of CCTV cameras around the city after privacy researchers raised their concerns over the “brazen display of surveillance,” reported the New Indian Express. 

AI-based surveillance system deployed in UP prisons: The Uttar Pradesh government has deployed an AI-based surveillance system in at least 70 prisons across the state which will allow authorities to analyse footage collected by over 700 CCTV cameras, reported Inc42. 

UP Police created a watchlist on CAA protests: The UP police created a watchlist on Twitter, called “Watchlist CAA protests,” reported The Print. When a journalist tweeted about being added to the watchlist, the UP Police’s twitter handle replied that the list was created to “promptly address public discourse on important issues”.

Payments

NPCI announced blockchain based payments platform: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) announced a blockchain-based payments platform for “highly secure and tamper-evident transactions” via a distributed ledger system. Called ‘Vajra’ (lighting) the platform has been designed to automate the process of clearing and settling payments for NPCI transactions.

Losses mount for payments banks: Aggregate losses for payments banks mounted 21% to Rs 626 crore during fiscal 2019 from Rs 516 crore in the previous year, the RBI said in a report.

More than 11.5 million FASTags issued till December 2019, says Road Transport Ministry: As of December 31, 2019, more than 11.5 million FASTags had been issued, with over 100,000 FASTags issued each day, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.