Since 15 years, the law has not been amended, it has become like a ghost without a regulatory edge
Digital pollution is happening from all sides. Software, hardware, content all have pollution. It’s something we all think about. Consumers, policy makers, regulators, service providers are all responsible for this. It can be reduced to a large extent if everyone thinks about their responsibility.
Consumers should also be responsible for themselves. Consumers should also know their responsibilities. Do you take the form without filling out the customer service? Even if there are 4 wires in your house, will the consumer be silent because someone else has to throw them away? Where is the place for consumer literacy? It has become difficult to find the forum itself about where to go and educate consumers.
It is a forum for literacy, whether it is an interview, whether it is news. We went to the local level and did the program. Now it’s hard. No one watches television. No one reads the news. We watch what comes on social media. Whatever we want to see on social networks, the same content comes in the feed. And we have believed that.
Last time we worked with a new concept in Berung Rural Municipality of Baglung. We organized a literacy program by gathering 200 people including school students, teachers, women, as the chairman of the rural municipality. It is not known which approach will make people aware.
But one thing is good, we are aware of our rights. We will blame anyone for that right. We say this should have been done by the regulator. But we don’t know that the regulatory ghost is like a chicken. There is a law that requires a fine of only 5 lakhs even though the crime is worth billions.
There is pollution everywhere. Whoever creates pollution should pay. That is the principle of the world. The regulator is working even outside the region.
Cyber Security, Data Security Act has been drafted by the authority. Will the draft authority do it? The Telecommunications Act of 2053 has not given us responsibility. But we are doing it because someone has to explore.
In this country, someone has come with the responsibility of making laws. We sent you by voting. We are not saying to make a law there. We say that the law should be made by the regulator, the Ministry of Communications should be made, and the Planning Commission should be made. I think the place where we are talking is wrong.
It has come up in the panel discussion that there is no coordination between the government agencies. How easy is it to talk? Who does the coordination? Is there a mandatory provision for this or not? What is the budgetary mechanism of organizations? What is the working style? What is the legal jurisdiction? You should know everything.
Let me give you an example, when I was working from Chio Bhanjyang in the east, a road was being built there. Telecom had to put a duct there.
After awarding the tender, the contractor owns the road for a certain period of time. Telecom asked the contractor to put the duct together, but the contractor said, ‘I will pitch it and dig it.’ The contractor is right here. Because that is our mechanism.
There is no legal framework that works in an integrated manner. They cannot work outside the legal framework. Who is responsible for the legal framework? After starting the question from there, other unanswered questions would be answered.
There is a mechanism for removing wires. There is a law for sharing infrastructure. Fees are also fixed. The authority has made a rule that the content provided to the consumer should be used when switching the router or wire to another service provider. Is it mandatory? Has the Telecommunications Act made it mandatory? The authority has done it in its place.
The Telecommunications Act has not been amended for 15 years. There had to be a law to enforce. In the next digital age, if one agency does not help, the other agency will fail. For example, we have told the service provider to use only the SIM in your name.
The service provider is also saying the same. But what if the consumer does not use the SIM in his own name? From where to make a binding legal arrangement for consumers? The policy should interfere with the work of interagency. It should go parallel to making rules and enforcing them.
There has been a lot of e-waste here. The law has not empowered the authority to look at e-waste. We made a document about e-waste with a foreign consultant and sent it to the Ministry of Environment. Because according to the laws of Nepal, the Ministry of Environment looks after e-waste.
A council in the ministry chaired by Prime Minister Ju should pass it. But it has been a long time since its meeting.
Recently, after the Ministry of Environment did not accept the recommendation made by the Authority, we are requesting the Ministry of Communication to make a recommendation again. If that policy comes, the issue of e-waste will be addressed.
When mobile, wire or other devices are sent to Nepal or imported by Nepal, pollution tax is paid to the concerned e-waste management company. That management company does the work of e-waste. E-waste isn’t just about looking good at wires.
There is also waste that affects our health. How much of the battery has gone into the soil, how much into the water? Water sources and soil are being polluted. There is no legal framework to manage these things.
Convergence regulation was raised before. We have a mandate to deliver reliable and quality telecommunication services to villages.
There is a downward demand for converged regulation, it is in the hands of the government to give or not. The regulator has recommended to the government that in the future digital era, converged regulation should be adopted, otherwise nothing will be managed.
I did not speak against the government, I spoke about the working mechanism. Laws and policies do not get priority. Service providers and consumers are saying that the regulator is failing. It is a ghost without a regulatory edge until the law prevents it. It does not cut and cut.
(Edited part expressed by Chairman Khanal in the interaction program organized by Nepal Telecommunication Authority on Monday on the occasion of World Consumer Day)
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