Parliament Passes Telecommunication Bill That Seeks Increased Government Control Over Telecom Sector

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Parliament on Thursday passed a bill that seeks to allow the government to temporarily take control of telecom services in the interest of national security, and provide a non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum.

The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, was approved by the Rajya Sabha through a voice vote. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday after a short debate.

The Bill seeks to allow the government to temporarily take control of telecom services in the interest of national security, and provide a non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum.

It also allows the Centre to take possession of a telecom network in case of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety.

Besides, it provides for stopping transmission and intercepting messages in case of public emergency, in the interest of the public, to prevent incitement for committing offence.

According to the bill, the press messages of correspondents accredited to the Centre or state governments shall not be intercepted or detained unless their transmission has been prohibited under rules applicable to public emergency, and public order.

Replying to the debate, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the Telecommunications Bill 2023 is being brought keeping in mind the aspirations of the new India to replace two colonial-era laws.

“In the last nine-and-half-years, India’s telecom sector has emerged from a very difficult period marred by scams to become a sunrise sector,” the minister asserted.

He also said during the same period, the number of telecom towers has increased to 25 lakh at present from just 6 lakh in 2014 and the number of internet broadband users has increased to 85 crore today from just 1.5 crore before.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India made the fastest rollout of 5G technology in the world with the maximum equipment made in India, he said.


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