New Delhi: Telecom operators in consultation with providers of services like BlackBerry, Skype and Gtalks will have to inform the government by March 31 the deadlines by which the security agencies can intercept their services.
"The home ministry has asked the department of telecommunication (DoT) to ensure that all telecom operators submit their plans by the end of this month on when they can provide access to all services, including BlackBerry's BES, whenever there is a necessity for the security agencies," said a senior official.
He said that DoT had been touch with the telecom operators who, under their licensing agreement, were negotiating the details with the smart-phone service providers. The department would tell the home ministry about the deadlines, which would be final in terms of downloading "certain software" in mobile handsets itself to ensure interception, he added.
"If they cannot give access, they have to put off their services in India," the official said. He explained that once the companies provide solution within the deadlines, the "retrofitment" or "download of certain software" in the handsets for legal interception would not be difficult.
The Centre will also put in place a security architecture for the telecom sector through which the government could put in a new facility to deposit open software in certain forms and new testing facility (labs).
Meanwhile, articulating government's security concerns, home secretary G K Pillai on Monday said that the terrorists these days were using Internet and mobile communication as the "most potent tool" to rope in youths and carry out espionage operations in the country.
"Terrorist attacks like that in Mumbai were facilitated by communications from the handlers over Internet and Internet has become one of the most potent recruitment tool for extremists and terrorists
," he said at a conference on the challenge posed by cyber crime. Raising the issue of improving cyber security certification system in the country, the home secretary said: "When we were looking at the import of telecom infrastructure equipment, we found that we don't have lab (for certification) and now we have just one lab in Kolkata which can do the level three certification. We need far more labs to come up in India, if we have to make sure that equipment that comes as part of infrastructure and many other sectors is in one sense safe."
Pillai said domestic laws were in place but there was absence of any "harmonised" international legal framework in tackling cyber crimes which are "borderless".
"Because the bulk of servers are outside India, when you want help, when you move to law enforcement agencies of other countries, help comes sometime but it comes very late, it's delayed and many times they are not willing to give us information citing privacy issues," he said.
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