Regulation

India’s Telecom Regulator Head Sharma To Stay On For Two More Years

The head of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Ram Sewak Sharma, will stay on in his role for two more years. According to Reuters, his assignment was slated to end Friday (Aug. 10), but will now have the additional time to continue to shape rules pertaining to the internet as the market in India takes off.

Reuters noted that Sharma took on Facebook and Apple, helping to shape rules that prevent internet service providers from charging different prices for accessing different parts of the internet. That was seen as a blow to Facebook’s plan to launch a free internet service in the country, noted Reuters.  The regulatory head also convinced Apple to allow spam detection on its iOS mobile operating software for the iPhone. The report noted that a cabinet panel signed off on the reappointment of Sharma until September of 2020.

Sharma previously served as the first director general of Unique Identification Authority of India, a government body in charge of India’s national identity card system, which is based on biometrics. In July, Sharma posted his Aadhaar number on Twitter to challenge hackers so that he could prove the system is safe, noted Reuters.

As the internet market and mobile apps heat up in the country, India’s government has been taking steps to crack down. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the Indian government wants telecom operators to devise plans to block Facebook and WhatsApp, its messaging app, in case there are misuses of these platforms.

According to the report, in recent months, India has been stepping up its crackdown on the mass forwards of messages that it claims people are using to spread rumors on social media. WhatsApp is a favorite of the regulators in India, after fake messages were spread on the messaging app that resulted in the lynchings and mob beatings of people around the country. In July, the Indian department of telecommunications requested for telecom providers in the country, as well as internet industry bodies, to “explore various possible options” to block the apps, reported Reuters.

“You are … requested to explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/Whatsapp/Telegram and such other mobile apps can be blocked on internet,” said the government letter dated July 18 and seen by Reuters.

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