Telecom Act: New Bill Enforces Three-Year Jail Term Starting Today, Find Out What’s Changing

The Telecommunications Act 2023 will replace the existing regulatory framework of the Indian Telegraph Act (1885), the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1993), and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act (1950).

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Starting from today, June 26, the Telecommunications Act 2023 will be partially enforced. This means that some sections of the law will come into effect. The Telecommunications Act 2023 will replace the existing regulatory framework of the Indian Telegraph Act (1885), the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1993), and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act (1950). From today, the provisions of sections 1, 2, 10 to 30, 42 to 44, 46, 47, 50 to 58, 61, and 62 of the Act will also be implemented. According to the notification issued by the government, the government can take control of telecommunication services on grounds of security, public order, or crime prevention. Additionally, there are strict provisions related to SIM cards in this Act.

Telecom Act: New Bill Enforces Three-Year Jail Term Starting Today, Find Out What's Changing

Key Features of the Telecommunications Bill 2023:

  • The bill has strict provisions to prevent the issuance of fake SIM cards. There will be a penalty of three years in jail and a fine for any kind of SIM card fraud. Selling, buying, and using fake SIM cards will also result in a penalty of up to three years in jail or a fine of up to 50 lakh rupees. Biometric data will be required to issue a SIM card. Having more than nine SIM cards on one ID will incur a fine of 50 thousand rupees. A second offense will result in a fine of up to 2 lakh rupees.

SIM Cloning is a Crime:

   
  • Cloning a SIM card or misusing someone else’s SIM card will now be considered a punishable offense. There have been many cases of SIM card cloning in the country, where people’s accounts are being drained by cloning their SIM cards.

Do Not Disturb:

  • Telecom companies will have to provide users with the option to register for DND (Do-Not-Disturb) services. Users will also have the option to file complaints about such messages.

Government Control of Networks in Emergencies:

  • According to the notification issued by the government, the government can take control of telecommunication services on grounds of security, public order, or crime prevention. In emergencies, any telecommunications company wishing to establish or operate a network, provide services, or maintain equipment will need to be authorized by the government.

New Method for Allocating Spectrum for Satellite Broadband Service:

  • The allocation of spectrum for satellite broadband service will now be done administratively, meaning there will be no auction. Additionally, companies from outside the country will be able to receive spectrum, although domestic telecom companies are against this. The new bill paves the way for Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellite Internet to enter India. The first list of services to receive allocated spectrum includes 19 services such as Global Personal Satellite Communication, national long-distance and international long-distance services, mobile satellite services, VSAT, in-flight, and maritime connectivity.

Also read: Union Budget 2024: Central Government to Take a New Approach Instead of Disinvestment

Call Tapping is a Crime:

  • Accessing telecom network data, tapping, or recording calls without permission will be considered a crime and can result in a three-year jail term.

Permission Required for Sending Promotional Messages:

  • Changes have been made regarding promotional messages in the new bill. Telecom companies will need to obtain government permission before sending promotional messages.

Purchase Equipment Only from Licensed Companies:

  • To ensure national security, telecom companies will have to purchase their equipment only from government-identified trusted sources.

Strict Laws Regarding DND:

  • If a user enables DND services, they should not receive such messages or calls, and any violation of this rule will result in action. The proposals also ban communications that violate the regulations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding commercial messages based on customer preferences.
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