TELECOM BILL PASSED BY THE PARLIAMENT
User protection remains the main focus with strict KYC norms
Three years imprisonment / fifty lakh rupees penalty for acquiring SIM using fake/forged document.
Three years imprisonment / fifty lakh rupees penalty for spoofing of telephone number
Three years imprisonment / fifty lakh rupees penalty on using telecom service via SIM Box etc
Brief on Telecommunications Bill, 2023
1. Focus on user protection
· “Do Not Disturb” register gets legal mandate to protect users from unsolicited commercial (spam) messages and calls
· Online grievance redressal mechanism for addressing grievances of users
· Acquiring SIM fraudulently using someone else’s identity proof will be punishable
2. Right of way reforms
· State government led dispute resolution structure. District Magistrate and the District Judge will decide right of way issues.
· Provision to establish common ducts in infrastructure projects for installation of telecommunication network
· If public property, permission to be given in time bound manner
· If private property, mutual agreement between owner and person who wants to set up telecom network.
3. License reforms
· Currently, about 100 different types of licenses. There are various constructs other than license such as registration, permission and authorization.
· Shift to a simple construct of authorisation for 3 aspects: providing telecommunication services, operating and expanding telecommunication networks and possessing radio equipment. OTT kept out.
· Documentation will reduce from hundreds of pages currently to a lean and clearly worded document
4. Spectrum reforms
· 1885 Act contains no mention of spectrum. Definition of spectrum clearly mentioned in the Bill.
· Auction to be the preferred mode for assignment of spectrum
· Assignment through administrative process for 3 clearly defined purposes:
o public-interest: metro, community radio, broadcasting etc;
o government functions: defence, railways, police etc
o cases where auction is not the preferred mode of assignment due to technical or economic reason: backhaul, satellite etc.
· National Frequency Allocation Plan to enable long-term planning
· Focus on enabling optimal utilisation of spectrum by legally recognising:
o Re-farming and harmonisation of spectrum
o Primary and secondary assignment of spectrum
o Taking back unutilised spectrum
o Technologically-neutral use of spectrum
5. Digital by design 4-tiered dispute resolution framework
· Voluntary undertaking: to enable assignees and telecom service/ network providers to voluntarily disclose lapses and rectify inadvertent contraventions
· Adjudicating officers and Designated Appeals Committee to function as digital offices to decide matters related to contravention of terms and conditions by assignees and telecom service/network providers
· Appeal to lie to TDSAT
6. Legal framework for standards, cybersecurity and protection of telecom network
· Central Government may notify standards for telecommunication services, network etc
· Measures to protect telecom network and ensure cyber security
· Trusted source regime and necessary measures including taking over telecom network in the interest of national security, in the event of war etc
7. Interception provisions same as before
· Grounds in accordance with provisions of Constitution of India
· Accountable mechanism in consonance with guidelines laid down by Supreme Court of India is already operational. The same mechanism will continue
8. Digital Bharat Nidhi
· USOF’s scope expanded to include research and development of telecommunication services, technologies, and products
9. Innovation and technology development
· Provision of regulatory sandbox to allow testing new products and services in a live and restricted testing environment
10. No disruption
· Exemption, license, permission, registration etc granted prior to the Bill to continue
Steps taken by Government of India for protection of telecom users
1. Sanchar Saathi Portal: empowers mobile subscribers and strengthens
o TAFCOP – lets the user know the mobile connections issued in
§ 28.92 lakh requests resolved
o Disconnect the connections not required by a user.
§ 55.52 lakh connections disconnected taken on fake/forged
o CIER – block/trace lost mobile phones
§ 11.42 Lakh phones blocked and 5.64 Lakhs phones traced
o Check genuineness of devices while buying a new/old mobile
2. Other modules of Sanchar Saathi:
o KYI: Know Your Wireline Internet Service Provider (KYI) module
facilitates citizens to check the details of Wireline Internet Service
o RICWIN: facilitates citizens to report the incoming international
calls received with local Indian number (+91-xxxxxxxxxx). RICWIN
enables citizens to report such calls for busting/unearthing
suspected illegal telecom setups which cause loss to Government’s
exchequer and pose threat to national security.
§ 162 such illegal setups detected in last 3 years.
§ 1200 crore SMSs sent to citizens in last 2 years
§ TSPs send awareness SMSs for Grey market
3. SIM cards is the master key or access card to enter a telecom network. It
is very critical to ensure right people are issuing these sim cards and to
the right users.
o In Bihar and West Bengal, cases detected where one fraudster has
used his face for taking thousands of connections.
Case 1: one face, 6738 SIMs – Bihar
Case 2: one face, 4997 SIMs – West Bengal
Case 3: one face, 4416 SIMs – Bihar
Case 4: one face, 1071 SIMs – North East
4. ASTR – an innovative, indigenous, Next Gen Platform – AI and facial
recognition powered Solution for Telecom SIM Subscriber Verification.
§ Total 134 crore SIMs analyzed, 55 lakh suspected SIMs taken
on fake/forged documents detected and disconnected.
§ 5 lakh fake/forged SIMs detected and disconnected by DoT in
Mewat Haryana in April 2022, Haryana Police teams with
more than 5000 police personnel carried out raids in Mewat in
May 2023, Arrested 140 persons.
5. Organized syndicates of Point of Sales (SIM Agents) selling SIMs on
Case 1: 31 PoSs sold 36000 Fraud SIMs – Bihar
Case 2 : 240 PoSs sold 70000 Frauds SIMs – West Bengal
Case 3 : 80 PoSs sold 55000 Fraud SIMs – North East
6. Know Your Customer (KYC) framework for selling of mobile connections
by TSPs, Government has amended the instructions which, inter-alia,
§ More than 70,000 Point of Sales (PoS) blacklisted till now
o Mandatory indisputable verification of each PoS.
o Blacklisting of PoS across all the TSPs in case non-compliance and
re-verification of all users enrolled by that PoS.
o discontinuation of bulk connections and introduction of business
connections wherein KYC of each end user is mandatory before
o Robust KYC process for SIM swap / replacement.
7. Prevention of SMS based cyber frauds:
o Artificial Intelligence based analysis of the principal entities sending
SMS has been done to block the fraudulent ones.
o This has resulted into 36% reduction in share of SMS based
phishing cyber-crime from February, 2023 to November 2023 of
the total reported cyber-crime on National Cyber Crime Reporting
8. CFCFRMS: Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management
System (CFCFRMS) deployed by government for reporting financial
§ 10 lakh bank accounts frozen which were linked with
disconnected mobile connections taken on fake/forged
§ 2.8 lakh mobile connections disconnected involved in cybercrime / financial frauds as reported by law enforcement
agencies on National Cyber Crime reporting portal
§ 1.32 lakh Mobile phones blocked for involvement in
cybercrime / financial frauds