Mr. Kapil Sibal who has recently taken charge as the Minister of Communications and Information Technology has on the 1st of January, 2010 released an ambitious 100 day roadmap for the Telecom and IT sector. The key highlights of the action plan are given below.
1) Licensing Squabbles: Through consultation and discussion bring transparency and clarity to telecommunications licensing and allocation. This includes, revisiting the National Telecom Policy 1999 and clearing up excess spectrum.
2) Security and Privacy: With regard to the interception of communications, make a system of oversight to prevent unauthorized interception. Also expeditiously build the government capability to intercept all forms of communication.
3) Consumer Welfare: Country wide launch of mobile number portability and commissioning a study on the radiation effects of cell phone usage. Also promote laying of fiber optic backbones throughout the country and connecting villages through the internet.
1) Electronic Governance: There is some legislative activity here with the plan mooting the drafting of an Electronic Service Delivery Bill and releasing a draft document on mobile governance for further consultation.
2) Cyber Security: This is quite significant, various sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provide for the laying down of rules which have not been done till date. The action plan proposes for the formation of rules with respect to several key sections which include, 43A (Data Protection), 70B (Agency to handle Cyber Security), 79 (Liabilities of Service Providers).
The action plan seems to be an ambitious and well intentioned document. One can clearly see that it does not disproportionately focus in on topics which are controversial and in the press such as spectrum but also areas of concern such as intermediary liability which have been ignored for long. It is ironic that for a sector acknowledged for the speed of its growth and commonly suffixed with, “superhighway”, the Internet has received a tepid policy and legislative response from the Government. One is also cynical to a fair amount after the bundles of newsprint on the spectrum scams and the perpetual deferral of Mobile Number Portability. Though looking at the plan, one can only hope that the intentions and the urgency in it are implemented in action. We won’t have to wait a long time to find out, the hundred days run out on the 10th of April.
- Major “revelations” on 2G likely soon: Sibal (thehindu.com)
- Minister Rebuts Telecom Allegations (online.wsj.com)
- India to launch mobile number portability on Jan 20 (reuters.com)
100 Day Action Plan