Srikrishna Committee to look into Trai timely recommendations

Economic Times, July 18, 2018

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan Wednesday said that sector regulator’s suggestions on data ownership were very timely and useful which the Srikrishna Committee would look into it while the government agrees to the broad principle set out by the Supreme Court on data privacy.
In August 2017, the apex court has expressed concerns over individual’s right to privacy in the digital age and called for a data protection law proportionate to the purpose for which data is collected and stored.

“These (Trai recommendations on data ownership) are the timely and useful inputs that the Srikrishna Committee will look into it,” Sundararajan said.

Government has already said that as far as data is concerned, user is the owner. The Supreme Court has already laid down broad principles and the government has endorsed it,” Sundararajan, on data privacy said, adding that the department would look into sector regulator’s recommendations soon. Tuesday, Trai has submitted its suggestions on ownership of digital data to the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The top official also said that as many as 44 million telecom-related complaints were received in 2017, and the Ombudsman that requires a change in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Act would be established soon.

“This (telecom) is the sector reviewed by the PM himself. There are 40 to 50 million annual complaints. Last year, the department received 44 million complaints,” Sundararajan said, on the sidelines of an event organised by a consumer group CUTS International.

She said that as per the analysis, a majority of complaints were coming form rural folks which needed special attention and redressal in local languages.
Despite being the sector with largest number of consumers in India, asymmetry between consumers and provider is huge, according to her.

Sundararajan said that based on the recommendations from Trai, a separate Omburdseman for telecom sector would be coming into effect, which would soon to be seen.

The Omburdseman which is being set up would have a three-tier process that include two-tiers at a company level and another would be an appellate authority.

The telecom tariff has brought down to whopping at 93% and consumers are greatly benefitted, and data uptake has picked up.

Sundararajan also said that the recommendations given by Trai for physically challenged individuals would be taken up at the Telecom Commission as soon as possible.

For every economical sphere, broadband highways, according to her, would be an essential enabler, and the digital rights of consumers would be important.

“Broadband is critical and should not be left only to telecom sector. It is a highway for financial inclusion and e-commerce,” she added.

“The policy is all about broadband for all,” she said while describing the newly-released National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018.
Sundararajan also said that 600 to 700 million people still don’t have broadband, and India is also world’s largest unconnected country.

“We opened up bands and create new categories and one should not be resistant and it is not unfair too,” the top official added.
The telecom department is, however, looking into a series of recommendations including Wi-Fi-driven digital connectivity which the regulator believes should be allowed to non-telecom entities based on a registration framework.

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