News

Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services Amended

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has notified amendments to the Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services. TRAI had earlier issued the ‘New Regulatory Framework’ for Broadcasting and Cable services in March 2017. However, the framework’s implementation revealed a few flaws that impacted consumers. To address those issues, TRAI notified the New Regulatory Framework 2020 in January 2020.

Immediately after new tariffs were announced, TRAI received representations from various stakeholders highlighting the difficulties likely to be faced by them in implementing new rates in the system and migrating consumers to the new tariff regime, especially due to the upward revision in the rates of pay channels and bouquets declared by broadcasters. To deliberate on the various issues related to the implementation of the New Regulatory Framework 2020 and suggest a way forward, a committee consisting of members from the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) & DTH Association was constituted under the aegis of TRAI.

The issues highlighted by the committee were taken up by the Authority, which notified the amendments to Tariff Order 2017 and Interconnection Regulations 2017. The main features of the amendments are as follows:

  • Continuance of forbearance on MRP of TV channels.
  • Only channels with an MRP of Rs. 19/- or less will be allowed to be included in a bouquet.
  • A broadcaster can offer a maximum discount of 45% while pricing its bouquet of pay channels over the sum of the MRPs of all the pay channels in that bouquet.
  • Discount offered as an incentive by a broadcaster on the maximum retail price of a pay channel shall be based on the combined subscription to that channel both in a-la-carte as well as in bouquets.

Broadcasters and distributors have been given a deadline of December 16, 2022, and January 1, 2023, respectively, to submit their RIOs in compliance with the new guidelines.

News

Pikashow App Blocked on Allegations of Copyright Infringement

In the case of Star India Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. V. Pikashow Application and Ors., the Delhi High Court ordered the blocking of the mobile streaming application Pikashow in the case of copyright infringement alleged by one of India’s leading entertainment companies.

In the present case, Star India Pvt. Ltd. and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (“Plaintiffs”) had filed a suit seeking a permanent injunction and reliefs for the rendition of accounts, damages etc., from the mobile streaming application. The Plaintiffs contested that the app Pikashow was illegally allowing piracy of well-known content on OTT platforms by permitting streamers to access copyrighted content freely on the Internet.

Aggrieved by the blatant piracy, the plaint stated that the app could be downloaded only from Telegram and not from established app stores like the Google Play Store or iTunes. This was proof of its circumvention tactics to provide copyrighted content free of charge. It was also stated that the app had already received over 500 complaints and cease-and-desist letters regarding the app and its domain. The Plaintiff also contended that despite the court issuing blocking orders, newer URLs that are privacy protected and do not provide details about the registrants were created to disseminate infringing content.

The Court held that the Plaintiff made out a prima facie case depicting the rogue nature of the apps that beckoned the Court to grant an interim injunction to prevent the streaming of infringing content. Further, the Court held that the balance of convenience was in the Plaintiff’s favour owing to the loss they would suffer if the Defendants were not injuncted.

The Court granted an interim injunction restraining the Pikshow app and its owners/operators from making it available through any domain names or websites mentioned in the plaint. The app was also restrained from being broadcast, accessed, or downloaded.

The Court asked GitHub India to disclose details regarding the name of individuals and entities, their email addresses, phone numbers and bank account details within one week. The Court also directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue blocking orders against the Pikashow app along with its source domains.

News

RBI Launches First Pilot of Digital Rupee

The Reserve Bank of India commenced the first pilot programme of Digital Rupee (e₹) from November 1, 2022.  At present, the RBI has identified nine banks, including State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, YES Bank, IDFC First Bank and HSBC for participation in the pilot.

As per the concept note published by the RBI, Central Bank Digital Currency is defined as a legal tender which is issued by RBI. The regulator has proposed two versions of the Digital Rupee- general purpose or retail (CBDC-R) and wholesale (CBDC-W).

The CBDC-R can be used by everyone, including private sector, businesses and non-financial consumers and is an electronic version of cash meant for retail transactions. On the other hand, CBDC-W can be used only by select financial institutions, has restricted access and has been specifically designed for settlement of interbank settlements.

News

Amendments to IT Rules Notified

On 28th October 2022, the Central Government notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022. The Rules came into force from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

As per the new guidelines, “The Central Government shall, by notification, establish one or more Grievance Appellate Committees within three months from the date of commencement of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022”.

The objective of setting up such multiple Grievance Appellate Committees is to provide a platform to the users of social media applications, including twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc an alternate means to settle disputes, apart from approaching the courts.

Further, the Rules envisage a shorter timeline of 24 hours to take necessary action on sensitive content while directing the Intermediaries to conduct due diligence in accordance with Article 14- Right to equality, Article 19 -Right to freedom, and Article 21- Right to life of the Constitution. It also mandates them to take reasonable measures to ensure accessibility of its services to its users while practicing due diligence, privacy, and transparency.  Further, the Rules allow the privacy policy to be published in other regional languages. 

News

New Policy Reforms for Satellite Communication

On 26th October 2022, the central government unveiled reforms for satellite communication services to enable a faster 5G rollout in the country. The objective of the policy reforms is to streamline the licencing and clearance procedures to improve the accessibility of satellite communication services across the country, especially in rural areas. 

The telecom Minister, Aswini Vaishnaw also urged the relevant industry stakeholders to speed up the process of tower deployments in the country to support a faster rollout of the 5G internet services in the country. 

Key highlights: 

  1. Simplification in telecom tower clearance process- faster expansion of mobile towers.
  2. Simplification in import process of telecom equipment- faster deployment of networks.
  3. Rationalization of charge for satellite telephony service- affordability and remote accessibility of satellite phones.
  4. Online and easy licensing process- faster, faceless, seamless delivery of  license.
  5. Digitation of old records- online auto-renewal of license.
  6. Delicensing of various frequency bands- promotes innovation, manufacturing & export, easy availability of device.

News

Government Announces National Logistics Policy

Government of India has issued a “National Logistics Policy” for efficiency in services (processes, digital systems, regulatory framework) and human resource.  This policy sets a target to bring logistics cost to global benchmarks by 2030.  A Comprehensive Logistics Action Plan (CLAP) has been set up to implement this Policy comprising of 8 action areas such as integrated digital logistics system, standardisation of physical assets, human resources development, engagement of states, EXIM logistics, service improvement, sectoral plan, and development of logistics parks. 

Further, a E-handbook on Warehousing and Standards has also been envisaged under the Policy with an objective to envisages to act as an enabling and guiding handbook for facility operators, owners, developers and regulatory agencies to identify and implement facility and sector specific standards. The handbook collates existing warehousing standards in the country [set by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)and the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA)], with additional suggestions to bridge gaps in such standardization.

The Policy also seeks to establish a service improvement framework to:

  1. Improve regulatory interface to enable seamless handshaking between logistics sectors.
  2. Promote standardization, formalization, and interoperability.
  3. Streamline fragmentation in documentation, formats, and processes.
  4. Reduce gaps in any existing regulatory architecture.

These objectives shall be achieved by;

  1. Formation of Service Improvement Groups– This shall comprise officers nominated from various user ministries who will provide for the monitoring and coordination mechanism for unresolved user issues pertaining to services, documentation, processes, and policy, along with identification of interventions for improving the user interface.
  2. Creation of a Digital Dashboard – E-LogS (Ease of Logistics): A digital system for registering, coordinating, and monitoring the resolution of user issues is being developed on which authorized user associations will register and upload their issues/suggestions.

News

Comments on Draft Amendments to IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 Invited

The Government of India notified the IT Rules in 2021 with an aim to address concerns regarding the lack of transparency and accountability among the intermediaries, who are exempted from liability for the acts of third parties under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Rules require the intermediaries to follow the procedures laid down in order to claim exemption.  

Highlights 

  • Introduction of Grievance Appellate Committee to hear appeals against the decision of the Grievance Officer- Sub-clause 3 to Rule 3 has been proposed, which provides for the establishment of the Grievance Appellate Committee. The Central Government shall constitute one or more Grievance Appellate Committees which consists of members as provided in the rule. Persons aggrieved by the order of the Grievance Officer may appeal to this Committee within 30 days of receipt of communication from the Grievance Officer. The Committee must dispose off the appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal.
  • Under Rule 3(1)(a), intermediaries are required to not only publish the rules regarding their privacy policy and user agreements, they are also required to ensure compliance with the same.
  • Under Rule 3(1)(b), the intermediary was previously required to only inform the user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share the information listed under the rule. The amendment  requires that the intermediary causes the user not to share such information, without notifying the user about it.
  • Two clauses have been proposed to be added to sub-clause 1 of Rule 3 wherein the intermediary is required to take measures to allow access of their services to the users with a reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy and transparency; and that the intermediaries are required to respect the rights of the citizens accorded to them by the Constitution of India.
  • Rule 3(2) provides that the Grievance Officer has to acknowledge the complaints sent to him within 24 hours and dispose them off within 15 days of receiving the complaint. The proposed amendment describes what is considered as a complaint and states that it includes suspension, removal or blocking of user or user accounts or any complaint or request for the removal of the information listed under Rule 3(1)(b). The proviso to this clause provides that complaints in the nature of the request for the removal of information or communication link must be redressed within 72 hours of reporting. Another proviso has been proposed that provides that the intermediary should adopt safeguards to prevent the misuse of the provision by the users.
  • An amendment has been proposed to Rule 4 which provides for rules for significant social media intermediaries. Under Rule 4(8)(b), when an action taken by an intermediary is disputed by the user who has created or uploaded the information, such complaints are to be decided by the Resident Grievance Officer within 15 days. The amendment proposed provides that the complaints under this rule shall be dealt as per Rule 3(2) which provides for redressal mechanisms to be followed by the intermediaries.

Impact 

A vital provision that has been proposed to be inserted is the constitution of the Grievance Appellate Committee, which allows the aggrieved persons to approach the committee, instead of filing an appeal in a court of law. It provides an alternative forum to regular courts to file appeals. Other proposed amendments are mostly clarificatory in nature and address gaps identified in the Rules.

News

CERT-In Issues FAQs to Address Queries on Cyber Security Directions

On 18th May 2022, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) released FAQs to address queries on Cyber Security Directions of 28.04.2022. 

The FAQs, consist of 44 questions that endeavour to clarify queries on the Cyber Security Directions to fast track operationalisation of these directions in the country. 

The FAQ consists of the following three primary sections: 

  • Section I: Basic Terminology and Scope of the Directions.
  • Section II: Directions under subsection (6) of section 70B of the IT Act, 2000.
  • Annexure-I: Explanation for Types of Cyber Security Incidents to be Reported to CERT-In.

Section I: comprises the basic terminology and scope of the directions. For instance, the objective for issuing the  Cyber Security Directions, the scope and applicability of the direction, the functions of CERT-In in the area of cyber security, the method of reporting and format for incident reporting, etc.

Section II comprises the nuances and explanations of the Cyber Security Directions, namely, areas the Cyber Security Directions cover, the benefit of the directions to the users in the country, the effect of the direction on the Right to Privacy of individuals, the time frame for reporting and information to be shared while reporting incidents, various applicability aspects of these Cyber Security Directions; and clarifications related to logging requirements, time synchronisation, and maintenance of specific information by entities, etc.

Annexure-I of the FAQs consists of an illustrative list of explanations of the types of incidents required to be reported to CERT-In.

News

RBI Releases Amended Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008

Through a Press Release dated 17th March 2022, the RBI has notified the amended Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008. 

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) read with clauses (b) to (f) of sub-section (2) of Section 38 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act (PSS Act), 2007 (51 of 2007), the Reserve Bank of India has carried out amendments to regulation 5, regulation 6 (2) and the ‘schedule’ to regulation 5 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 (PSS Regulations).  

The Press Release states that “the amendments are carried out with the objective of reducing the compliance burden on Regulated Entities (REs) by rationalising certain returns prescribed in the PSS Regulations.”

With these amendments, certain monthly/quarterly/annual returns prescribed in sub-regulations (a) to (g) of regulation 6 (2) have been discontinued and redundant operational guidelines listed in the ‘schedule’ to regulation 5 have been removed.

News

Tamil Nadu Data Policy 2022 Unveiled

On 16th March 2022, the Tamil Nadu Government released Tamil Nadu Data Policy 2022 with the objective of aiding policy-making, improving implementation of schemes, encouraging value-added services and improving access to and quality of services.

As per the Policy, a State-level data governance committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, shall be responsible for providing strategic guidance for the data policy framework, while a data inter-departmental committee, headed by the Chief Executive Officer of Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA), shall make the operational- level decisions as per the guidelines envisaged under the policy. The CEO of the TNeGA shall be appointed as the State’s Chief Data Officer.

The policy shall be applicable to all Public Authorities as defined under section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 within the jurisdiction of Tamil Nadu state.  Additionally, it shall also apply to  all data and information created, generated, collected, and archived using public funds of Government of Tamil Nadu directly or through authorized agencies by various Departments / Organizations / Agencies and Autonomous bodies.

Policy provisions shall also concern to data that is recurring in nature and generated owing to automation (result output of their service delivery to citizens/business) of State user department process through various IT systems and to legacy data that is still available in non-machine-readable form.

While discussing Personal Data the policy maintained that “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, [introduced in the Lok Sabha] that seeks to regulate data production and sharing is yet to become a law, but certain aspects of the Bill, like personally identifiable information and sensitive personal information, will be a factor to consider when we start using data produced in the government to solve the above challenges.”

The policy has also formulated rules governing access to non-open data. “Questions such as whether data are aggregated, who is going to use data, what data will be used for, whether data are personally identifiable, whether it has sensitive personal data are critical to determining access to the data.”

It is also maintained that the State shall  adopt a hybrid of state and centralised data storage mechanisms, and critical master data, like the family database, shall be stored centrally with appropriate safeguards and protection of personally identifiable information, such as removal of potentially identifiable characteristics and other statistical techniques. It has also been specified that data shall be published in machine readable formats, such as csv, xml and json, to minimise the use of PDFs.

It is pertinent to note that, while the Policy encourages dissemination and use of non-sensitive data freely, certain data shall be priced.  “The price of non-open data to be shared, if any, would be as per the policy of the Government of Tamil Nadu, and TNeGA shall be responsible for issuing instructions on data pricing.”