New Delhi, Delhi, India – World Phone, India’s leading VoIP service provider, today applauded the widely publicized decision of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to reject the recommendations of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding Over the Top (OTT). According to a widely reported anonymous DoT official, “TRAI’s internet telephony recommendation was not accepted by the DoT. The Department has now sought a comprehensive reference from TRAI for internet and over-the-top players.
World Phone alone was the driving force behind this DoT decision. His pending lawsuit (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 11173/2019) has asked the Hon’ble Court to enjoin Facebook, Inc. n/k/a Meta Platforms, Inc.” (“Meta”) and WhatsApp, LLC from providing internet telephony services until they are in full compliance with the requirements applicable to the provision of such services in the Indian Union.
The Honorable Mrs. Justice Rekha Palli previously acknowledged in the World Phone lawsuit: “Although the pleadings on the matter are complete, it appears that the TRAI, had on 14.09.2020, made certain recommendations which, at prima facie, were not in favor of levying any fees on entities providing Over The Top (OTT) services”. The Court then ruled that “it is expected that before the next hearing date , said Respondents will make a final decision on the above recommendations, and in doing so, they will also be entitled to determine whether any new recommendations are requested by the TRAI.” In other words, the DoT did what was requested by the Court in World Phone’s lawsuit against the DoT, Meta and WhatsApp, LLC.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are currently providing internet telephony to hundreds of millions of people in India without any license or permission from the concerned authorities. Like regulatory rulings prohibiting “discriminatory pricing” for different data or content platforms, World Phone’s action seeks a ruling that levels the playing field for licensed carriers such as World Phone.
In defiance of applicable law, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp also currently operate in India without any underlying physical presence in India. These unregulated activities can be seen as a form of digital colonialism that not only harms companies like World Phone, but directly threatens our national security and the autonomy, privacy and self-esteem of our citizens.
For example, seeking to monitor grocery purchases, the Meta and Jio platforms announced on August 29, 2022 the launch of “the first-ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp, where consumers can shop on JioMart directly in their WhatsApp chat”. This will allow users in India “to seamlessly browse JioMart’s entire grocery catalog, add items to cart, and make payment to complete the purchase, all without leaving the WhatsApp chat” . This comprehensive food watch follows the WhatsApp India official’s previous announcement in July 2020: “Our collective focus over the next two to three years should be to help low-wage workers and the informal non-profit economy. organization to easily access three products: insurance, micro-credit and pensions.In other words, Meta and WhatsApp seek to control all possible levers of commerce for the Indian people.
The Honorable Judge Yashwant Varma has ordered the next hearing in the World Phone action to be set for September 8, 2022.