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To avoid net blackouts, Trai may impose selective ban on WhatsApp, Telegram

Popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram are likely to be among the apps under consideration for a selective ban

digital law, internet, mobile usage, internet users, smartphones

Another Trai official said that given the nature of these applications, false messages are shared on these platforms, sometimes in bulk, which can cause social unrest and violence on the ground. Photo: Bloomberg

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is of the view that an arrangement to selectively ban popular over-the-top (OTT) platforms should be in place to avoid any disruption to essential internet-driven services, The Economic Times (ET) has reported. Popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram are likely to be among the apps under consideration for a selective ban.

Speaking on the subject, a senior Trai official told the newspaper that currently, the administration does not have a mechanism to selectively ban WhatsApp, Telegram or other similar apps. Given this situation, the government has to put a blanket ban on the internet. The official said the intent now is to keep the essential online services running, including banking, healthcare and online educational services.

Another Trai official said that given the nature of these applications, false messages are shared on these platforms, sometimes in bulk, which can cause social unrest and violence on the ground.

Previously, the telecom watchdog had released a consultation paper that discussed and explored the possibility of a framework for selective banning of apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram in a chosen geographical area to manage tense situations, the report said.

The paper invited inputs about technical solutions required to implement selective banning of apps. The paper was released after the parliamentary standing committee on Information and Technology made a suggestion. The panel suggested that a policy on selective banning of apps should be explored.

The suggestion has attracted strong opposition from representatives of OTT companies. OTT companies have argued that they are already governed under the IT Act 2000, and any additional laws would obstruct innovation. Some companies also called the proposal on selective banning "draconian" and "against-consumer," the ET report said.

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First Published: Jul 25 2023 | 10:05 AM IST

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