After putting a hold on video calling last month, the Indian government has now permitted telecom operators to roll out video calling services in India, with a rider: Telecom operators have to demonstrate to the government, the ability to intercept video calls, by July 31st 2011. According to a statement from India’s Department of Telecommunications, “If the demonstration is not up to the satisfaction of the Government, the service providers stand committed as per the undertaking unconditionally and unequivocally withdraw the Video Call Service from their network immediately.”
Video calling had been stopped because, as per a report in BusinessLine, these calls are available only five minutes after the completion, while India’s security agencies, already pushing Blackberry for interception of enterprise email, and for telecom operators to improve location sharpness, want real time interception. Research in Motion, the makers of Blackberry, have already given the Indian government to intercept Internet access and the Blackberry Messenger, according to reports, though it has still not provided interception of Blackberry email.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Indian government will have its hands full if it pushes for more interception – Skype recently launched a video calling service, and there are several Internet telephony based applications out there, that they will have to push for interception. In all of this, what about privacy? Should anyone be allowed to intercept our calls, our Internet access and our messaging just because they’re working for the government? India needs strong privacy laws, but we know that the issue here is always with enforcement.