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March 20, 2021
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19th March Current Affairs

Telecom licensing conditions amended

In News:

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended licensing conditions for telecom companies.

Highlights:

The norms include defence and national security as parameters in purchase of telecom equipment for trusted sources.

Starting June 15, telcos can use telecom products only from trusted sources in its network.

Telcos must take permission from the designated authority if they plan to upgrade their existing network using telecom equipment that has not been designated as trusted product.

National Cyber Security Coordinator has been made the designated authority for deciding on the list of trusted and non-trusted telecom equipment source and products.

NCSC’s decisions will be made based on approval of a committee headed by the deputy National Security Advisor (NSA). The committee will also have members from other departments and ministries, and independent experts as well as two members from the industry.

Impact on Chinese companies:

The move could potentially make it more difficult for Chinese telecom equipment vendors like Huawei and ZTE to supply equipment to Indian telecom players in the future.

National Cyber Security Coordinator:

In 2014, the Prime Minister’s Office created the position of the National Cyber Security Coordinator.

The NCSC office coordinates with different agencies at the national level for cyber security matters.

Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995

In News:

The Karnataka High Court has ordered issue of notices to the Centre and the State government and 70 media platforms, including newspapers, on a petition seeking a direction to the authorities to take steps to safeguard the right to privacy of individuals and ensure that media outlets don’t invade the privacy of individuals by breaching law.

What has the Court said?

Any broadcast in the media, governed by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, should be strictly in conformity with the terms of “Programme Code” defined under this Act.

The media platforms also include TV channels, online news portals, news agencies, social networking and micro-blogging service providers, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995:

The law prescribes imprisonment up to two years or fine up to ₹1,000 or both for the first offence, and imprisonment up to five years and with fine up to ₹5,000 if any media governed under the CTN Act violates the provisions and the “Programme Code”.

The code, which contains an elaborate list of don’ts for cable TV channels, states that no programme should be aired that contains anything obscene, defamatory, false, and suggests innuendos and half-truths.

Challenges in implementation of the law:

Section 20 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, states that the government can regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of any programme that it feels is not in conformity with the Programme and Advertising Code, which oversees television content in India.

However, there is no body to pre-certify content for TV. The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), under the I&B Ministry, monitors the content telecast on private TV channels to check if they adhere to the Programme and Advertising Code.

Specific complaints on code violations are looked into by an inter-ministerial committee (IMC).

Role of tv channels:

As per Rule 6 of the Cable TV Network Rules, it is also the responsibility of the channel to ensure its programmes are not violative of the programme code.

Sub-section ‘c’ of Rule 6 specifically mentions that programmes that contain attacks on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes should not be carried in the cable service.

Need for these measures:

Airing of sensitive video footages may be a total disregard to a person’s right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution”.

With private lives of the citizens being splattered over the media be it through social networking sites or spy cameras, protection is needed so that citizens can function in a way they want to and not think of others before their actions.

Delhi HC seeks response on petition against new IT Rules

In News:

The Delhi High Court has sought a response from the Centre on a petition challenging the new IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, claiming it seeks to regulate online news portals by imposing government oversight and a vaguely worded ‘Code of Ethics’.

What’s the issue?

The new IT Rules laid down a separate ‘Code of Ethics’ for the two kinds of publishers — publishers of news and current affairs content, and publishers of online curated content.

However, the parent (IT) Act does not recognise digital news media as a separate category of entities and does not seek to subject them or their content to any set of special regulations.

The content to be regulated by the parent Act, as offences, was limited to sexually explicit material, child pornography, showing private parts of individuals, cyber terrorism, etc. to be prosecuted and tried by normal courts.

Concerns:

It said the new IT Rules had “profound and serious harms for digital news media” and was destructive of their rights.

The new rules violated Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression).

It also deprived the intermediaries of their “safe-harbour protections” under Section 79 of the IT Act.

Background:

The IT Rules, 2021, introduced two distinct sets of regulations — one, due diligence norms to be followed by ‘intermediaries’ and two, ‘Code of Ethics’ ought to be adhered to by ‘publishers’, along with a three-tier compliance mechanism.

What is space hurricane?

In News:

Scientists from China recently discovered a space hurricane for the first time ever above the North pole.

Previously, it was believed, space hurricanes were a theoretical phenomenon.

Key facts:

As per their report, the hurricane measured roughly 600 miles across and rained down charged electrons for as long as eight hours.

The space hurricane spun counterclockwise at speeds up to 4,700 miles per hour, the academic paper reported.

The hurricane was reported in space directly above the North Pole.

Why it matters?

The new finding could help scientists learn more about how the Sun affects Earth’s atmosphere, gathering more details on how space weather might harm satellites and other objects in orbit.

What are space hurricanes?

They are thought to be a result of the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field interacting.

It is a huge, funnel-like, spiral geomagnetic storm that occurs above the polar Ionosphere of Earth, during extremely quiet conditions.

They are related to the aurora borealis phenomenon, as the electron precipitation from the storm’s funnel produces gigantic, cyclone-shaped auroras.

They are made up of plasmas, consisting of extremely hot ionized gases that rotate at extremely high speeds.

Formation:

Space hurricanes are caused by plasma unleashed from the sun as solar wind. These charged particle clouds travel through space and fuel magnetic storms as they interact with magnetic fields.

Impact:

The researchers think these kinds of storms could create more drag on satellites and interfere with radio signals and communications, making these events particularly important to understand.