Law to regulate telecos soon

Govt looks to US legislation after stand-off with Blackberry makers

Taking a cue from the US’s Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the government is examining how a similar law could be enacted in India under which it would be made mandatory for anyone offering services to give access to security agencies.

The new law, expected to come up next year, will allow government agencies to snoop into the services of all telephone, broadband internet, and interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) traffic in real time.  At present, security agencies access the telecom services under licensing agreement. However, with some of the service providers like Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of BlackBerry phones baulking at giving complete access to all the services, a stand off between the service provider and the Government ensued. Now the Government feels that a complete law would help in overcoming this problem. The CALEA defines the existing statutory obligation of telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance pursuant to court order or other lawful authorisation. Through the new law, the government wants to preserve law enforcement agencies’ ability to conduct lawfully authorised electronic surveillance while preserving public safety, people’s right to privacy and the industry’s competitiveness.

The DoT is already in touch with the US authorities to understand the implementation of the provisions of CALEA and how to deal with security requirement for monitoring communication networks built from imported equipment.

The new law will ensure that the telecommunication carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment will modify and design their equipment and services to ensure that they have built-in surveillance capabilities.

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