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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Illegal phone tapping to invite three years in jail, Rs 2 crore fine or both

The central government may, if it deems fit, also suspend or terminate the telecommunication service of such person

PTI New Delhi Published 18.12.23, 07:41 PM
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Representational Image File photo

Interception of phone communications illegally, unauthorised data transfer or attempting to gain access to a telecommunication network will soon be punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to three years or a fine of up to Rs 2 crore.

According to the new Telecommunications Bill, 2023, introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, if anyone works in any way against the interest of national security, friendly relations with foreign states and uses telecommunication equipment illegally shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with a fine which may extend up to Rs 2 crore, or with both.

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The central government may, if it deems fit, also suspend or terminate the telecommunication service of such person.

The draft bill says whoever provides telecommunication services or establishes a telecommunication network without authorisation or causes damage to critical telecommunication infrastructure shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with fine which may extend up to Rs 2 crore or both.

"Whoever directly or indirectly or through personation gains or attempts to gain unauthorised access to a telecommunication network or to data of an authorised entity or transfers data of an authorised entity; or intercepts a message unlawfully, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend up to two crore rupees, or with both," the draft bill says.

The data of an authorised entity includes call data records, Internet Protocol data records, traffic data and subscriber data records, among others.

The bill also says that anyone tampering with telecommunication identifiers, possessing radio equipment without an authorisation or an exemption that can accommodate more than specified number of subscriber identity modules, obtaining subscriber identity modules or other telecommunication identifiers through fraud, cheating or personation, wilfully possessing radio equipment knowing that it uses unauthorised or tampered telecommunication identifiers, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with a fine which may extend up to Rs 50 lakh or both.

Whoever causes damage to telecommunication network, other than critical telecommunication infrastructure, shall be liable for compensation for the damage caused and fine that may extend up to Rs 50 lakh, the bill says.

"Whoever abets any offence, or attempts to commit, or conspires to commit an offence under this act, shall if the act abetted or conspired is committed in consequence of such abetment or conspiracy, be punished with the punishment provided for the offence," it further states.

"Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, all offences specified under this section shall be cognisable and non-bailable and no court inferior to that of a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or a Chief Judicial Magistrate of first class shall try any offence punishable under this act," it added.

The bill says any officer authorised by the central government in this behalf may search any building, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or place in which they have reason to believe that any unauthorised telecommunication network or telecommunication equipment or radio equipment in respect of which an offence punishable under Section 42 has been committed is kept or concealed and take possession thereof.

"Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, where the central government is satisfied that any information, document or record in possession or control of any authorised entity or assignee relating to any telecommunication service, telecommunication network or use of spectrum, availed by any entity or consumer or subscriber is necessary to be furnished in relation to any pending or apprehended civil or criminal proceedings, an officer, specially authorised in writing by the central government in this behalf, shall direct such authorised entity or assignee to furnish such information, document or record to him and the authorised entity or assignee shall comply with the direction of such officer," it says.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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