India’s telecom regulator will go full throttle on data privacy, ownership and security consultations and expects that its recommendations — likely to be ready in two months — will provide inputs for a government-created committee on data protection.
The regulator’s suggestions on the other burning issue of net neutrality will be brought out within a month, keeping in mind the local dynamics, said RS Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
“We’re clear that whatever net neutrality recommendations we give, they will be for the Indian context, which is very unique, where internet is playing a very developmental role. So, whatever rules that we come up with will be in harmony with our developmental objectives and our country’s interests,” Sharma said.
The other point of discussion in the net neutrality paper, for which the Trai has sought views, is regulation of devices.
“The device is also a part of the network because without it one cannot access the network. So, we’ve asked that if device is part of the network, what rules should apply on it,” Sharma said.
The regulator held an open house consultation in New Delhi on Wednesday where the issue of whether phones bundled with a limited set of apps violated net neutrality was raised. Some carriers said any offer of a SIM-locked handset with limited apps under a tariff plan was as good as a ‘walled garden.’
They said a mobile phone user must be able to utilise any browser, operating system or applications available on the internet or else it would breach net neutrality norms. Bharti Airtel said apps and content providers should also be regulated because they ride on telecom networks and should share revenue, a view that net neutrality backers opposed, calling it extortion.
On the broader issue of user data, privacy, security and ownership on telecom networks, Sharma said the authority will complete consultations in two months and is looking at the issue from the prism of consumer interest.