Mark Zuckerburg's Meta Left Guessing If Apps Like WhatsApp, Signal Will Come Under New Telecom Bill: Report

Mark Zuckerburg-owned Global tech giant Meta is reportedly worried that India’s new Telecommunications Bill might affect its popular apps like WhatsApp.

What Happened: The recently passed law could give the government a lot of control over telecom companies, and Meta thinks it could include these messaging apps in the future, Moneycontrol reported, citing sources.

Meta’s India policy head, Shivnath Thukral, expressed concerns in an internal email that the business publication has seen. He reportedly mentioned that even though the law removed direct mentions of over-the-top (OTT) services (like WhatsApp), the definitions of terms like “telecommunication” and “message” in the law are broad enough to be open to interpretation.

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Why It Matters: The Telecommunications Bill defines “Telecommunication” widely, covering the transmission of messages through various systems. The term “message” includes different forms of communication. Some experts worry that platforms like WhatsApp might fall under the law.

While Thukral reportedly also said in the email that a “minister” had communicated to the firm that there was no plan to regulate OTTs under this law, concerns over ambiguity lingered.

The law allows the government to access and disclose messages in specific situations, raising privacy concerns for encrypted platforms. On December 20, the Lok Sabha passed the bill, but some members of parliament sought clarity on the definitions. The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha and, if approved, will replace the old Indian Telegraph Act of 1885.

Besides OTTs, the bill insists that only entities authorised by the government can offer telecommunication services, and rules for getting this authorisation will be set later.

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