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21/12/23 | 2:22 pm

Rajya Sabha approves Telecom Bill 2023, prioritizing user protection and structural reforms

The legislation seeks to amend and consolidate laws related to the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services and networks in India. It introduces measures to enhance user protection, combat impersonation, and address issues related to the fraudulent issuance of SIM cards.

A significant provision mandates that telecom service providers must verify user identity through verifiable biometric-based identification. Electronics and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw assured the Lok Sabha on Wednesday of the Bill's strong focus on user protection, emphasizing the introduction of an empowered Know Your Customer (KYC) regime with stringent penalties for violators, including imprisonment for up to three years and fines of up to 50 lakh rupees. The move aims to curb the misuse of telecom services and bolster overall security.

To streamline the regulatory process, the Bill establishes a single-point authorization system, replacing the existing complex structure of various licenses. Vaishnaw highlighted that this simplified system would enable a faster and straightforward grievance redressal mechanism, incorporating a four-tier dispute resolution process.

Addressing concerns, Vaishnaw reassured the lower house that all provisions align with the observations and directions of constitutional benches of the Supreme Court regarding spectrum management. He emphasized the incorporation of safeguards and checks to ensure constitutional compliance.

Vaishnaw also highlighted the Digital Bharat Nidhi as a special feature of the Bill, aiming to promote and support telecom equipment and product makers for the welfare of the over 40 lakh people engaged in the telecom sector.

The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, is poised to replace the outdated Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 and supersede the existing regulatory framework for the telecommunication sector, including the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1933) and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act (1950).

By Manish Poswal 

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