India’s telecoms regulator, TRAI, has issued a white paper which asks whether OTT players should be subjected to the same regulatory regime as telcos

Telecoms regulators in India are looking at ways to bring OTT service providers, such as WhatsApp and Skype, under closer industry regulation.

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published an industry white paper, entitled "Regulatory Framework for Over The Top Communications Services", which will seek to gauge industry opinion on whether OTT players should be subjected to the same regulatory codes as telcos.

India has witnesses a sharp increase in the number of violent crimes being organised over social media apps, with vigilante violence on the rise.

In a recent example, rumours were circulated over WhatsApp that two men were involved in a string of child abductions in Karnataka State. A mob quickly assembled to dispense ‘retribution’, killing one of the men and savagely beating the other. The two men were later found to be innocent of any involvement in the crimes for which they were assaulted.

This example is part of a wider trend that has seen the Indian government ask the telecoms industry to explore ways of blocking social media apps in times of national emergency or heightened tension.

TRAI’s decision to explore the possibility of stricter regulation for India’s OTT players could also sharpen the industry’s focus on data security, as the amount of personal data on India’s networks continues to soar.

"The objective of this Consultation Paper is to analyse and discuss the implications of the growth of OTTs; the relationship between OTT players and TSPs; the similarity, if any, between services provided by the TSPs and OTT players; changes that may be required in the current regulatory framework to govern these entities; and the manner in which such changes should be effected," TRAI said in a statement to the press.

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