The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has now said that cloud service providers are to be regulated under its provisions. TRAI chief RS Sharma on Friday (February 28) reportedly said, “CSPs are service providers under the TRAI Act and, therefore, we are dealing with this issue.”
Sharma was speaking at an open house discussion on a TRAI consultation paper seeking suggestions for a framework to set up an industry body to regulate cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, VMware and CtrlS.
For the uninitiated, TRAI in October 2019 had sought public views on parameters for companies to become members of a cloud industry body and the likely governance structure, should there be single or multiple industry bodies which may be registered under the telecom department, fees that should apply to them, etc.
TRAI secretary SK Gupta said, “Anything which is wired/wireline, audio, sound, image…everything is covered under telecommunication and therefore, well within the framework of the TRAI Act.”
The comments came from officials of Amazon, Microsoft and telecom body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). They argued that CSPs are already regulated by MeitY and any additional regulation by the telecom department or TRAI will lead to overlap.
A representative of Amazon Web Services said all the issues raised in the TRAI consultation paper are already governed by some law or the other, be it data processing or compliance needs.
“RBI, SEBI and IRDAI have very strict outsourcing guidelines that are enforced as well on us. Overarchingly, you’ve got the IT Act in place that governs each of our offerings along with contract law,” they said.
To this, TRAI chief Sharma said that all TRAI recommendations are sent to the Government of India and not to any single department. The regulator had also sent recommendations to BN Srikrishna committee when it was deliberating on the draft of Data Protection Bill, 2019, he pointed out.
“Let us not lambast TRAI for trying to interfere in the area,” Sharma said. “We are not trying to regulate it. We floated a consultation paper to see whether the industry could voluntarily come out with a code of conduct or best practices.”
In earlier discussions in December 2019, US India Business Council (USIBC) said there’s more than sufficient regulation of cloud services in the industry and Indian cloud service providers should not be subject to new regulations.
COAI had said that CSPs do not fall within the same category of service providers as defined in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 owing to the fact that CSPs merely use the existing connectivity provided by telecom service providers and do not constitute telecom service providers by themselves.
A CII and KPMG report said that cloud technology, enabled by IT and bolstered by a sound telecommunications network, can herald innumerable solutions to enable telemedicine, set up remote classrooms, etc.
The global companies are now working to align with the government requirements, which calls for keeping data generated about Indian customers within the country. NASSCOM research says that the Indian cloud computing market is currently valued at $2.2 Bn and is expected to grow at 30% a year to $7.1 Bn by 2022.