Security agencies want check on internet telephony

Fearing terrorists operating from overseas could use Internet telephony to hoodwink security systems when planning and executing attacks, the Intelligence Bureau has urged the government to take steps to prevent such misuse immediately.

“Since it is impossible to trace Internet telephone calls from foreign countries, we have asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to block such calls until a system is in place,” a senior official in the Ministry of Home Affairs told Deccan Herald.  

Telecommunications Secretary Siddharth Behura confirmed that requests had been made to providers to block some calls. However, he refused to give any further details. Last year, security officials expressed concern over e-mails sent through Blackberry services that could not be traced or intercepted. However, the company later agreed to comply with security directives. Several providers, including Skype, Google, Yahoo and Windows Live, offer Voice Over internet Protocol (VOIP). Any ban will affect thousands who use the Internet to make cheap phone calls within and outside India. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, between January-March this year, 130 million minutes of Internet telephone calls were made in India.

SIM threat
Meanwhile, following reports that terror groups have purchased hundreds of SIM cards under false names, security agencies have now approached DoT for powers to block numbers on grounds of suspicion.

The move comes following reports that several SIM cards, especially from Jammu and Kashmir, have landed in the hands of terror groups, including Lashker-e-Toiba, which used such SIMs during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Now, there is no proper mechanism in place wherein the state police or any authorised security agency can ask the service providers to block any SIM card.

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