A Department of Telecommunication (DoT) committee has suggested tightening of the rules for remote access and the provision to keep track of data and voice traffic on mobile networks in India, from remote locations across the world, reports The Economic Times.

According to the report, the panel has suggested that all foreign telecom service operators must create an online copy of the remote access information accessed and maintain security records of both completed and attempted remote access to the information. These recommendations are expected to affect foreign telcos like AT&T, BT (British Telecom), Verizon, and Cable & Wireless among others.

Install local remote servers: The panel has also recommended these telecom service providers must install a local remote access server in the country and store information like remote access requests provided from foreign locations locally in its remote access servers. Further, the service provider should also be in a position to restrict remote access to Indian mobile networks, as and when directed by the licensor i.e. DoT.

DoT had introduced limited remote access to mobile operators in March 2007, after increasing the FDI limit in telecom from 49% to 74% and had later agreed to the demand of foreign telcos like AT&T, BT (British Telecom), Verizon, and Cable & Wireless in March 2009, to enable these telcos manage calls and data accessed on Indian mobile networks by their corporate clients from select overseas locations as well as transfer their client information to those foreign locations, as indicated by a separate Economic Times report.

This looks to be yet another step in increasing the Internet surveillance in the country by the government, after ordering ISPs and telcos to install interception equipment in the country. After a long drawn battle with the Indian authorities, BlackBerry maker RIM had also set up a server in Mumbai in February 2012, to provide security agencies access to its BlackBerry Messenger services, however in August 2012, it had denied reports of handing over encryption keys for its secure enterprise services to the Indian government and demonstrating a solution which could intercept messages and emails exchanged between BlackBerry handsets, and make them available in a readable format to Indian security agencies.

Citing a communique from The Association of Competitive Telecom Operators (ACTO), an industry association body formed by these non-integrated long distance carriers to DoT, the report adds that ACTO has opposed these recommendations by the DoT panel and has asked the Indian government to not impose a single solution across all its mobile networks in the country. That being said, it should be noted that we were not able to find any such communique either on the DoT website or the ACTO website.

In its communique to DoT, ACTO has also apparently stated that foreign telcos are planning to set up a functional server locally within the next year, which will have the capability to capture the requisite remote access information on a real-time basis, although it claimed that India will be the first country where these carriers would be implementing local servers.


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