New Telecommunications Act 2023 Empowers Govt Control During Emergencies
New Telecommunications Act 2023 Empowers Govt Control During Emergencies

Starting June 26, the central government will have the authority to take control of telecommunications services and networks during emergencies, thanks to the new Telecommunications Act 2023. This significant change follows the government's partial notification of the Act's provisions, including sections 1, 2, 10, and 30.

According to the Gazette notification, "The Central government hereby appoints the 26th day of June 2024, as the date on which the provisions of sections 1, 2, 10 to 30, 42 to 44, 46, 47, 50 to 58, 61 and 62 of the said Act shall come into force."

The Act grants the government the power to control telecom services for reasons of security, public order, or to prevent offences. Specifically, Section 20 states, "In the event of any public emergency, including disaster management, or in the interest of public safety, the Central Government or a State Government, or any officer specially authorized by them, can take temporary possession of any telecommunication service or network from an authorized entity. They can also ensure that messages from users authorized for response and recovery during emergencies are given priority."

Telecom operators must obtain government authorization to establish or operate networks, provide services, or possess radio equipment. Additionally, the Universal Service Obligation Fund will be renamed Digital Bharat Nidhi, expanding its use to fund research, development, and pilot projects beyond just rural telecom services.

Other provisions, such as spectrum allocation for satellite services and the adjudication mechanism, will be notified at a later date. The Telecommunications Act 2023 will supersede existing regulations, including the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933.

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