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The concerns related to national security raised by Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone over certain messages from Amazon, Microsoft, among others

Amazon and Microsoft, among other major tech companies, have shifted their enterprise communications from SMS to WhatsApp and other unregulated platforms. This move has sparked concern and criticism from India’s top telecom entities—Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone-Idea—represented by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The COAI, in a letter to the telecom secretary Neeraj Mittal, accused these global corporations of skirting legal telecom pathways by using WhatsApp and Telegram for messaging Indian customers. They alleged this bypassing of authorized channels to be in violation of licensing and security norms, resulting in substantial annual revenue loss, estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore, for both the government and the service providers.

The COAI urged the government to label WhatsApp and Telegram as improper channels for enterprise communication, particularly for time-sensitive, one-time authentication passwords. They emphasized that the use of OTT platforms disregards licensing norms and established regulations, moving traffic away from SMS to these channels. The industry body argued that this shift not only affects revenue but also impacts security protocols, especially as these platforms use end-to-end encryption.

The COAI’s letter cautioned that if this practice isn’t addressed, it might encourage the use of unmonitored pathways, potentially posing security threats. Additionally, the telcos have pointed out that companies are using these unregulated platforms to sidestep charges associated with international enterprise alerts. While the regulated SMS route follows specific regulations, the OTT platforms are not subject to these, making it easier to send unsolicited messages without adhering to customer consent guidelines.

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