NGO Telecom Watchdog demands criminal case against Elon Musk-owned Starlink


NGO Telecom Watchdog has sought filing of a criminal case against Elon Musk-owned Starlink for allegedly accepting payments from people in the country for internet services without having a licence for the same.

The NGO, in a letter dated November 27 sent to the telecom secretary, also urged the Department of Telecom (DoT) for “strict disciplinary action against the officers for delayed and inadequate action of the issue”.

DoT and Starlink did not comment on queries sent to them in this regard.

Telecom Watchdog had filed a complaint against Startlink with DoT on September 29 alleging that the US-based firm is illegally collecting money from Indian consumers with a promise of providing them broadband service even though it has no licence for the same.

The DoT last week said Starlink is not licensed to offer satellite-based internet services in India, and advised the public not to subscribe to the services that are being advertised by the company without a requisite licence in the country.

The department had also asked Starlink to comply with the regulatory framework for offering satellite-based communication services, and refrain from booking/rendering “with immediate effect”.

The NGO, in its letter to the telecom secretary, sought filing of criminal case with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) against the company as well as a “CVC investigation into the entire episode on how Starlink could launch the pre-booking since February 2021 while DoT officers did not do anything.”

“The DoT took as many as 58 days to issue directions for something which could have been done in hours. In between many more innocent consumers got cheated,” Telecom Watchdog claimed.

The NGO said as per a statement by Starlink’s managing director, the company has collected USD 99 from 5,000 customers in India.

“The figure now stands at a little over 11,000. That means over USD 1,089,000 has been collected by them so far in foreign exchange. This is in gross violation of the RBI guidelines related to end use. No accountability has been fixed for this delay,” the letter said.

Telecom Watchdog, which has been a co-petitioner in the 2G case, alleged that the concerned division under the DoT is siding with Starlink and demanded a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) investigation into the matter.

The NGO also urged DoT to order a refund of the entire money that Starlink has collected with interest and without any deductions.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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