Cellphone tracking to become easier

Value-added service

Cellphone tracking to become easier

The government is studying the feasibility of giving value-added service (VAS) providers access to information related to the location of a cellphone as a part of the National Telecom Policy 2011.

Once given a go ahead, the service has the potential to locate lost cellphones, tracking people anywhere in the country, by simply feeding the mobile number in a web application even if the handset is not GPS enabled.

“Location-based services (LBS) is going to be part of content enablement under NTP. It is important for VAS and everybody knows that VAS is going to be the name of the game,” R Chandrashekhar, secretary, Department of Telecommunications said.

The content enablement provision of NTP 2011, lays down the guidelines for VAS service providers for providing all kind of content over mobile phones like MMS, SMS, Alerts.

Privacy and security

The government is, however, contemplating how much information related to the location of a mobile phone can be given out to public keeping in mind privacy issues and security concerns. “We are vetting it to decide how much of it can be opened for public,”he added. There are various companies in the telecom sector that provide location-based services on request like information about nearest restaurants and hospitals etc. of a particular area where the user is positioned.

The information is provided to the user when he types the name of the location on an mobile application on his cell phone or sends a SMS to a particular number.

At present, the location of a cellphone can be traced by public only if the handset is GPS enabled.

The location-based information of all other (non-GPS enabled) mobile phones can be only accessed by security agencies using mobile phone towers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has also invited comments on mobile value added services report released by Assocham in January as pre-cursor to a consultation paper on VAS.

Assocham report has also referred to applications based on location based information of mobile phone.

The proposals

* Location based services envisaged as part of National Telecom Policy 2011
* Value-added service providers may get access to information about location of cellphones
* It will help locate lost cellphones , track people
* Currently, location of cellphone by public can be traced only on GPS-enabled handset

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