On September 21, 2022, the Ministry of Communications in India released the Draft Indian Telecom Bill, 2022 (“Draft Bill”). The Draft Bill followed a previous consultation paper from the Department of Telecommunications outlining the “Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunication in India,” with a call for input that has now been extended to November 20.
GNI welcomes the opportunity to respond to the open consultation on the Draft Bill. GNI has worked on intermediary liability issues in India since 2012, including commissioning a report that demonstrated how greater legal certainty for online intermediaries could help unleash the economic potential of the ICT sector.
For the reasons set out in our submission, we encourage additional consultation and revision and provide recommendations for future amendments to ensure a free, open, and secure information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem in India.
Specifically, we encourage the government to i) reconsider the unprecedented expansion of government authorities to set licensing and registration requirements for a broad array of ICT companies; ii) reaffirm Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India’s role in providing independent oversight and expertise on related matters; iii) clarify and substantially narrow the provisions for public emergency or public safety powers in the bill, including as related to ordering network disruptions; and iv) to protect encryption and anonymity and utilize the opportunity to align surveillance measures with international human rights standards.
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is a multistakeholder initiative that brings together 85 prominent academics, civil society organizations, ICT companies, and investors from around the world. Members’ collaboration is rooted in a shared commitment to advancing the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, which are grounded in international human rights law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). For over a decade, the GNI Principles and corresponding Implementation Guidelines have guided ICT companies to assess and mitigate risks to freedom of expression and privacy in the face of laws, restrictions, and demands.