Stung by the BlackBerry controversy, the government has made it mandatory for telecom operators to furnish details about value-added services in advance so that security agencies can keep track.
“It has been brought to the notice of the licensor (DoT) that telecom service providers are not meeting the legitimate monitoring requirement of the security agencies which has serious implications on national security,” DoT said in a letter to all cellular and basic service providers. The direction would have serious implications for the growth of value added services (VAS), which is contributing nearly 25% to telecom operators’ profitability.
The department has said that service providers must inform it about the launch of any new service/facility in their network 15 days in advance as per earlier instructions, failing which it will be treated as breach of terms and conditions of license agreement and appropriate action will be initiated.
The required information, in the prescribed format, with regard to monitoring arrangement should be made available by all the operators for each service that is being offered or proposed to be offered to the respective cell of the department, on quarterly basis, it said.
The government has taken this step in the backdrop of the controversy over Blackberry services, which have allegedly posed a major security threat in the absence of monitoring of information transmitted through the device.
DoT also said that an amendment was made in the licence agreement in 2002 with regard to VAS that interalia provides “the licensee should make arrangements for monitoring by government security agencies.”
“However, this has not been implemented by most of the telecom service providers,” DoT said.
“The licensees are also directed to ensure that no new services are launched until appropriate systems for monitoring of this service are put in place,” DoT said in the letter, copy of which has been sent to all operators and respective cells of the department. Upon furnishing of information, DoT would inspect the nature of monitoring arrangement that have been made available by the service providers for the services offered by them.