The government has being urged by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to designate platforms such as Telegram and WhatsApp as illegal avenues for conducting commerce
The top three telcos in India are part of an industry group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), that has accused global consumer technology giants like Microsoft and Amazon of “presumably circumventing and bypassing the legal telecom route” by sending business messages to customers via WhatsApp and other unregulated platforms, according to an ET report. Both the government and the service providers are purportedly losing about INR 3,000 crores in income annually as a result of this practice.
The government has being urged by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to designate platforms such as Telegram and WhatsApp as illegal avenues for conducting commerce. This has to do with using time-sensitive one-time authentication credentials that are necessary for transaction validation and device access.
COAI wrote a letter dated October 31 to Neeraj Mittal, the telecom secretary, on behalf of India’s three largest private telecom companies, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, ET report added. Technology majors, over-the-top (OTT) platforms, certain financial institutions, and e-commerce websites use global A2P (application to person) channels, like WhatsApp, to connect with their clients for offers and OTP authentication. The trade association stated that these kinds of uses are intended for the regulated SMS service provided by telcos.
The COAI claimed that there has been a sharp increase in the diversion of SMS traffic from the SMS channel to OTT channels like Telegram and WhatsApp, “in utter disregard to licencing norms and regulations, thus impacting security norms while also leading to clear loss to the exchequer.” This is an obvious attempt to avoid the licenced route via telcos. The business body said that if the practice is not stopped, it may promote the use of “grey and unmonitored routes, which can pose a security threat for the nation.”
It further stated that a potential Rs 3,000 crore in revenue loss would be incurred by both, the government the industry.
Previously, app developers have resisted efforts to regulate them under telecom laws, claiming that the IT Act already covers them. They have stated that additional regulation will hinder innovation. According to the report, The COAI reaffirmed in a letter dated October 31 to the telecom secretary that OTT communications platforms are not subject to regulations and, as a result, are not required to protect customer privacy, in contrast to telcos. It went on to say that in contrast, the licenced route is subject to regulation and has differential pricing, which keeps financial fraud-prone unwanted foreign alerts and communications at bay.