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Indian Telecommunication Bill 2022: What are the government’s powers to intercept messages and suspend internet?

What powers does the government have to intercept or broadcast messages and suspend internet shutdowns under new draft telecom bill? Take a look

Key takeaways The government can direct telecom companies to intercept messages and disclose it to them in the interest of sovereignty and security of India. Internet services can be suspended for a limited time in cases of public emergency or public interest with reasons in writing. The Union government can take temporary possession of telecommunication networks in case of emergencies or public interest. The government can prescribe standards to maintain quality and reliability of telecommunication networks and infrastructure. Telecom companies can be made to broadcast announcements in public interest through a government decree. The Indian government’s Ministry of Communications has released the draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, to revamp the legal framework for telecommunications and make it “future-ready”. The ministry will be accepting comments on the bill till October 20, 2022. One can send the comments to the following email address— naveen.kumar71@gov.in. There were signs that the government was working on a new framework after it released a consultation paper in July 2022.  (You can read Medianama’s summary here) Why it matters: The bill addresses some of the issues, flagged by the telecom industry in the past, by streamlining and modernising regulatory frameworks. The government has now codified a framework with which it has the power to suspend internet or intercept messages but there are concerns that the bill lacks adequate safeguards to prevent overreach. It must be noted that the framework is also likely to help the government fend off new legal challenges in the country's courts…

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

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