A selective OTT ban will impose too heavy a cost on the country
SummarySuch a mechanism proposed by TRAI will be hard to implement and potentially violative of Constitutional rights as well
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) proposal for a selective banning mechanism for over-the-top (OTT) platforms has ignited discussions on its technical and legal practicality. OTT platforms can restrict OTT applications for the general public if needed. However, implementing localized bans poses significant challenges. OTT platforms must ascertain the user’s location, usually through GPS or cell ID data. Yet, not all devices have GPS, and obtaining user consent for location data access raises privacy concerns. Mandating GPS data access, possibly through government directives, could jeopardize individuals’ privacy rights and violate the proportionality principle outlined by the Judiciary in the Puttaswamy judgement. Cell ID data, essential for location tracking, is primarily held by network operators and protected from app providers for privacy reasons. OTT service providers can also use the IP addresses of users to block access, but this requires pinpointing the user’s precise IP address in a given locality. Users can easily mask their IP addresses using tools like VPNs and proxy servers. This situation might allow malicious actors to successfully bypass restrictions, while legitimate users would inadvertently bear the consequences of these measures.