The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to block the Skype-like low-cost international calling app WePhone as it allows spoofing of caller ID making it difficult to identify or locate the actual caller, reports PTI. The app requires users to verify their phone numbers at the time of installation, but later provides an option to disable or hide the number so that it doesn’t reflect on Caller Line Identification (CLI).
Calls made from WePhone displays a US number (+17777777777) on the receiver’s caller ID by default, though users can later set any number they want as the display number or even hide it. This seems to be the IB’s primary contention against the app.
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The app uses Wi-Fi or 3G/4G network available on the phone to make the calls. However it doesn’t support incoming calls or messaging. The app also provides a Callback feature, which allows users to make call even in areas with low-quality mobile internet connectivity. It’s also possible to call people who don’t have WePhone app installed on their phones. Though the app in free to download, users need to purchase call credits within the app to make calls. According to the WePhone website call rates for India varies between Rs 1.20 per minutes and Rs 1.80 per minute, depending on the plan the user is on (Standard, Gold or VIP).
Skype to block voice calls to phones in India: Earlier this month, Microsoft’s Internet telephony service Skype decided to discontinue its voice call service to phones (landlines and mobiles) in India from November 10. Indian Skype users will be able to continue making free Skype-to-Skype calls within India. They’ll also be able to make calls to mobiles and landlines in India from outside the country and make calls from India to mobiles and landlines in other countries.
Will LINE and Viber’s calling service be blocked too?
Japanese mobile messaging and calling app LINE had extended its premium calling service LINE Call to India last month. It allows users make low-cost calls directly to mobile phones and landlines in India and worldwide. Mobile messaging company Viber, which has around 15 million users in India, had also launched a calling service called Viber Out that allowed users to make calls to mobile phones and landlines around the world, in December last year. In both cases the question was – is this legal?
As per Indian laws, PC-to-PC or IP-to-IP telephony is allowed but calls originating from within India cannot be terminated on mobiles or landlines without a unified license. This was the reason Nimbuzz tied-up with Spectranet to offer its VoIP service instead of launching it independently. While LINE doesn’t seem to have partnered with any company to launch this service in India, Viber founder & CEO Talmon Marco had replied to NextBigWhat’s question about unified license by saying, ““We are not an India-based company. So…”