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Cloud services firms to resist Trai move to impose new rules

Some of the world’s largest cloud service providers, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, VMWare and IBM, are grouping together to protest against what they view as an attempt by India’s telecom regulator to increase government oversight on the sector.

Later this week, the cloud companies plan to petition the department of telecom (DoT) through industry groupings — Nasscom and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) — protesting against the recommendations released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), two weeks ago. According to the proposed rules, cloud companies will also be required to join a new industry body to be set up under the aegis of the DoT, which will be steered by government officials and nominated industry experts. Telecom companies will not be allowed to provide any infrastructure to any cloud service provider who declines to join the new grouping.

Terming the Trai proposal as a “regulatory land grab”, industry representatives told ET they do not want to be under the ambit of DoT, as they are already governed under regulations laid down by the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY). Nasscom, Association of Competitive Telecom Operators, ITI (Information Technology Industry) Council, a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents firms from the information and communications technology industry, and COAI will write to the telecom department voicing industry concerns by the end of this week, people familiar with developments told ET.

“The issue is that the case for additional regulation of cloud (firms) over and above existing laws, as well as, the upcoming Personal Data Protection Bill is not apparent,” said Ashish Aggarwal, head of public policy at Nasscom. The government is also reviewing the IT Act, which covers cloud service providers. “If cloud service providers are subjected to various regulatory bodies, it may lead to multiple bodies governing the same set of operators. There should not be any duplication,” said Kumar Deep, country manager, India at ITI Council.

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