Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Rajya Sabha passes Telecommunications Bill that allows Union govt to take control of services

The Rajya Sabha on 21 December passed the omnibus Telecom Bill 2023 that provides for the Centre to temporarily take control of telecom services in the interest of national security.

The Bill will replace existing laws, including the 138-year-old Indian Telegraph Act.

The Bill was passed by a voice vote after a short discussion. Many Opposition members did not attend the House following their suspension.

Ninety-seven Opposition MPs in the Lower House, besides 46 in the Upper House, have been suspended in recent days from the remainder of the Winter Session of Parliament for disrupting the proceedings as they sought a discussion on the December 13 security breach in the Lok Sabha chamber.

The Bill provides for the Union government to temporarily take control of telecom services in the interest of national security.

The Bill says that in case of a public emergency, including natural disasters, or in the interest of public safety, the Centre, state governments or authorised officers take temporary possession of telecommunication services or networks.

The proposed law also provides for the interception of messages and their transmission to be stopped in case of a public emergency.

The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha a day earlier.

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