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Telecommunications Act 2023 new provisions to come into effect on June 26: All you need to know

The new provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2023, effective from June 26, include restrictions on the number of SIM cards allowed per individual, penalties for fraudulent SIM acquisition, authorization for the installation of mobile towers, and more.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: June 25, 2024 12:12 IST
Telecom tower
Image Source : FILE Telecom tower

Various new provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2023 will come into effect on June 26 this year. The Telecommunications Act of 2023 aims to update and combine the laws about developing, expanding, and running telecommunications services and networks. It also covers the allocation of spectrum and related matters. The act plans to replace old laws like the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act of 1933 because of significant technological advancements in the telecommunications sector.

The new provisions which are coming into effect on June 26 include restrictions on the number of SIM cards an individual can use, punishment for fraudulently obtaining a SIM, permission to install mobile towers, and more. 

Restrictions on the number of SIM cards

As per the notification issued by the Central government, an individual can only have a maximum of nine SIM cards in their name. However, this limit is reduced to six for residents of Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast states. Anyone found using more SIM cards than the specified limit after June 26 could face a fine ranging from Rs 50,000 to 2 lakh. The penalty for a first-time offense would be Rs 50,000, and for subsequent violations, the amount would increase to Rs 2 lakh.

Punishment for fraudulently obtaining a SIM

If someone obtains a SIM card by deceiving another person and using their identification documents, they could face a penalty of up to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to 50 lakh rupees, or both. 

Commercial messages

If commercial messages are sent without the user's consent, the telecom company responsible may face a fine of up to 2 lakh rupees and could also be banned from providing services.

Other provisions

The government is allowed to grant permission to telecom companies to install mobile towers or lay telecom cables on private properties, even if the landowner objects if government officials believe such work is necessary. Another rule empowers the government to instruct telecom firms to intercept and block messages and calls during times of national security threats or emergencies. However, messages sent by journalists with state and Central accreditation for news purposes are exempt from surveillance. Nevertheless, the calls and messages of accredited journalists may be monitored and blocked if their news reports are deemed to threaten national security.

Punishments under the new provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2023

The new rules outline the following punishments for different violations:

  • Snooping on messages and calls and providing parallel telecom services: Three-year imprisonment, a fine of Rs 2 crore, or both.
  • Possession of illegal wireless equipment: Fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
  • Possession of unauthorised devices that can block telecom services: Three-year imprisonment, a fine of Rs 50 lakh, or both.
  • Violation of laws related to national security: Imprisonment for three years, a fine of Rs 2 crore, or both. The services/networks could also be banned.
  • For causing damage to telecom services: Fine up to Rs 50 lakh.

ALSO READ: WhatsApp testing new In-app Dialer feature: Here’s how it works

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