The Indian government has given a one month deadline to Internet Service Providers, specially the ones offering services in Jammu & Kashmir, to come up with a solution enabling the interception of VoIP(Voice over Internet Protocol) calls, according to a report in PTI (via The Hindustan Times). The report cites unnamed sources as saying that security agencies, the Department of Telecom, National Technical Research Organisation and ISPs have been unable to come up with a solution to blck ‘unregistered’ VoIP services. So it appears that the onus has been put on ISPs to provide a solution.

Why is this being done?

This, according to the PTI report, is in the wake of a blast attempt by militants, who were communicating via VoIP. Security concerns over VoIP services is not new, and since it’s difficult to trace the originating location of such calls accurately, unlike calls made on mobile networks, it’s been the preferred means of communication of terrorists, according to the government security agencies.  At a recent Conference on Mobile Law in Delhi, IPS officer Aditya Mishra had explained exactly how VoIP had been used in the terrorist attacked in Mumbai, and pointing towards a need for standards (like in case of GSM), which allow security agencies to intercept calls in time, even though IP allows for recovery of all call related information, including call recordings.

SIPs Already Blocked

We had retrieved (via the Right to Information Act) a list of the foreign SIPs (Session Initiation Protocols) used for Internet Telephony blocked here. In 2009, India’s Intelligence Bureau had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to block VoIP services to and from the country, until a mechanism has been put into place to track these calls.

India’s VoIP Policy

Confusion on the exact Internet Telephony policy remained, even as the Department of Telecom issued orders to block foreign SIP (Session Initiation Protocols) to various ISPs. , and the applicable policy on Internet Telephony, which everyone we spoke with appeared to be confused about (and still are): here.