The issue of regulating OTT players, or applications, like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal is causing key ministries to reach conflicting decisions. From the standpoints of public safety and national security, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) have supported the idea.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is currently opposed to all regulations. To stop the spread of false information, the DoT has stated that a mechanism should be developed that gives it the authority to selectively restrict OTT apps or content.
These opinions were compiled by the DoT, which then requested that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) review its 2020 recommendations regarding OTT apps. MeitY, in contrast, disagrees with DoT and claims that no regulations should be put in place for OTT providers because the 2020 recommendations are sufficient for the time being.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) said that it should be the only department involved in content and online news because they fall under its purview. According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), as OTT apps provide the same set of services, they should be subject to the licencing framework, particularly the universal licence.
The ministries have provided their opinions as part of the DoT’s consultation process on the issue of app regulation. The TRAI is anticipated to release a consultation document, inviting feedback from all the stakeholders, before finalising its recommendations.