2020-21 was a remarkable year for the technology and telecommunications sector, forcing companies and governments to rethink the way things worked, resulting in disruptive changes in the sector. While the pandemic fast-tracked some long due legal and policy changes, many other expected changes were put on a slow burner. This update summarises some of these developments along with our expectations for the year ahead.

THE YEAR THAT WAS

As expected, many of the changes in 2020 in the sector were in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the last year saw a lot of activity on the regulation of personal data, 2020 marked discussions on the report regulating non-personal data released by the committee constituted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). Further, the retail payments space saw a lot of changes, facilitating the proliferation of digital payments in light of COVID-19. The enactment of the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 (E-Commerce Rules) also brought focus to consumer protection in the age of e-commerce and online retail. The e-commerce sector also came under additional tax obligations in the form of equalisation levy.

The telecommunication sector saw one of the biggest changes with relaxations to the regulatory framework for Other Service Providers. The introduction of the Wi-Fi Access Network Interface brought the focus on providing wider and easier access to internet across the country.

Anti-trust authorities across the world and in India examined the operations of technology companies, including their data collection and processing activities, for anti-trust measures and consumer protection.

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