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Reliance opens up Jio Chat to 9 countries, but will it be secure?

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In a world where instant messaging services have aren’t restricted to any particular geography, Reliance Jio has opened Jio Chat to nine countries: Canada, USA, UK, UAE, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, China and India.

The idea being doing this is fairly evident: they appear to be first targeting those countries where a large number of expatriate Indians live (and China and South Africa), and thus trying to make the service relevant for cheaper cross-border communication, the way Whatsapp, WeChat, Line, Viber and Hike have done. It’s also probably slowly scaling its ability to handle

However, the question one has to ask about Reliance Jio, is whether the communications using the service will be allowed to remain private and secure. Among Reliance Jio’s submissions to the TRAI on Net Neutrality, the company said that the following terms should be mandatory for communications apps in India:

  • Setting up Lawful Interception and Monitoring (LIM) systems.
  • Providing necessary facilities for continuous monitoring of the system, not employing any bulk encryption equipment and taking prior evaluation and approval of Licensor for any encryption equipment for specific requirements
  • Providing decryption keys to the Government.
  • Maintaining call detail record/ Internet protocol detail record (IPDR) for Internet including Internet Telephony Service for a minimum period of one year.
  • Maintaining Parameters of IPDR as per the directions/instructions issued by the Licensor from time to time

We’ve sent Reliance Jio the following questions, regarding whether they’re following their own recommendations to the Indian government:

1. Does Reliance Jio provide lawful interception and monitoring to the government?
2. Has Reliance Jio not deployed bulk encryption equipment?
3. Has Reliance Jio provided decryption keys to the government?
4. Has Reliance Jio taken government approval for deployment of encryption for specific requirements?
5. Does Jio Chat allow store detail record/ Internet protocol detail record (IPDR) for Internet including Internet Telephony Service for a minimum period of one year?

We’ll update in case they respond.

Disclosure: MediaNama has taken a position in favor of Net Neutrality and I’m a part of the Savetheinternet.in coalition advocating Net Neutrality in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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