Nasscom has raised concerns about the Centre’s move to make caller identity display mandatory as it could impinge on the privacy of users

“An apprehension on fundamental rights to privacy can also arise under Clause 4(8) ( of the new telecom bill) which mandates the disclosure of identities of senders of messages to their recipients in all scenarios.... There are various scenarios where users, rightfully, do not wish to have their identities placed on record on others’ devices, such as conversations by victims of domestic abuse, journalists, or whistle-blowers, or conversations bound by professional secrecy. At most, the bill should limit obligations of user identity display systems to specific service providers of a certain threshold, and further, consumer-facing (natural persons) are given the option to opt into such systems,” Nasscom wrote in its submission to the Centre.

Caller name display

The draft telecom bill makes it mandatory for telecom operators to display the name of the caller, unlike at present, when only the phone number is visible.

Separately, Nasscom also asked the Centre to exercise prudence while implementing the clauses pertaining to making KYC mandatory for communication OTT apps and telecom service providers. Nasccom said that this “should only be considered after first carefully considering possible technical solutions that could be implemented in an efficient manner with the least adverse impact on business models and privacy.”

Internet experience

Nasscom also asked the Centre to consider judicial oversight for internet shutdown orders.

The tech association’s comments come in tandem with a spate of pushback against the new telecom bill, which is coming from all spheres. Concerns are being raised regarding the implications of the bill, which could completely change how normal citizens experience the internet and how businesses provide a variety of communication services using data. 

Anupam Guha, Assistant Professor, Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay, noted on Twitter, “If this (bill) passes, it ends the internet as we understand it here. Nothing is anonymous anywhere. ”