TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT, 2023 (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     25th June 2024        
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Context: The Telecommunications Act 2023, partially effective from June 26, aims to achieve a developed India through principles of inclusion, security, growth, and responsiveness.

Telecommunications Act, 2023

  • Objective: An Act to amend and consolidate the law relating to development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks; assignment of spectrum; and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The Bill seeks to replace the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933. The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950. 

oIt also amends the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997. 

  • Broad Definition:

oThe Bill defines 'telecommunication' broadly as the transmission, emission, or reception of any messages through various means such as wire, radio, optical, or electromagnetic systems.

oThis definition encompasses over-the-top services like WhatsApp, Telegram, and email services such as Gmail.

oIt implies that every internet application operating in India falls under the purview of the law.

  • Provisions

oPowers of authorisation: To provide telecommunication services.

üTo establish, operate, maintain, or expand telecommunications networks.

üTo possess radio equipment.

üExisting licences will continue to be valid for the period of their grant, or for five years, where the period is not specified.

oRight of way: Facility providers may seek a right of way over public or private property to establish telecom infrastructure. It must be provided on a non-discriminatory and non-exclusive basis to the extent possible.

oInterception, Monitoring, and Blocking: Messages or a class of messages between two or more persons may be intercepted, monitored, or blocked.

oAmendments to the TRAI Act: Individuals with the following professional experience can serve:

üAt least 30 years of professional experience to serve as the chairperson.

üAt least 25 years of professional experience to serve as members.

oDigital Bharat Nidhi: The act renames the fund as Digital Bharat Nidhi, and also allows its use for research and development.

oUser Protection: The Act implements measures to shield users from unsolicited commercial communication and establishes a grievance redressal system.

oDigital Implementation: The Act mandates a digital-by-design approach, incorporating online dispute resolution and other digital frameworks.

oOffences and Penalties: Providing telecom services without authorization can result in up to three years of imprisonment, a fine up to two crore rupees, or both.

üViolating the terms and conditions of authorization is punishable with a civil penalty of up to five crore rupees.